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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Man threatened to chop off girlfriend's head, Carlisle court told

A man who told his girlfriend he loved her despite throwing knives at her and threatening to chop her head off has been jailed for more than four years.

Andrew Colin Sutton – described in court as posing “a high risk of serious harm to present and future partners” – subjected the woman to a tirade of abuse and physical threats as their stormy relationship came to an end.

At Carlisle Crown Court the 27-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of making a threat to kill, assault, harassment and criminal damage.

Judge Paul Batty QC, the city’s Honorary Recorder, said he had “terrorised” and “absolutely terrified” his victim and jailed him for a total of four years and three months.

The term included the whole of a two-year sentence which had previously been suspended, for seriously injuring a former friend by smashing a glass over his head.

Prosecuting counsel Antony Longworth said Sutton, of Ellen Garth, Aspatria, had been living with Stacey Gardner and their baby in a flat in the town when their “good then bad” relationship ended.

Things came to a head in August when, after taking drugs and during a visit from a health visitor, he started angrily questioning the paternity of the child.

Ms Gardner left the house, but followed her to her grandmother’s, where he pushed his hands around her face, catching her near her eye with a key he had in his hand.

Ms Gardner “felt she had no alternative but to go back home with him”, Mr Longworth said, but he continued abusing her there too.

Sutton fetched knives and scissors from the kitchen, and threw them at her as she sat on the sofa.

“None of them hit her, but she feared they would because he was throwing them in her direction,” Mr Longworth said.

Afterwards Sutton told her he loved her and said “You know I would never really hurt you”, he said, but she decided to leave him.

It was then that he grabbed her by her coat, dragged her backwards down the hall to their bedroom, hit her and told her he was going to cut her head off, Mr Longworth said.

In mitigation, defence barrister Marion Weir said Sutton had failed to come to terms with the new baby and had turned to drugs to help him cope.

“He seems to be a man who struggles to cope with any emotions there are before him,” she said.

He now at last accepted that their relationship was over, she said.

The judge imposed a restraining which banned Sutton – who appeared in court via a video link from Durham prison - indefinitely from contacting Ms Gardner or going within 500 metres of her home.

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