Wednesday 28 September 2016

Abusive boyfriend filled bath and dunked partner's head

Published 02/06/2016 | 14:45

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An abusive boyfriend who forced his partner's head in bathwater has been jailed.

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Paul Knell (21) will spend a year in prison and another on supervised licence for attacking the woman in Dundonald last June.

The labourer, from Inverleith Drive in east Belfast, admitted choking his now ex, who he has a child with, with intent to commit an assault, and assaulting her.

Sentencing the defendant at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Gordon Kerr said his behaviour "could not be tolerated" and described the attack as a "horrifying experience" for the victim.

The woman told previous hearings Knell dunked her head in bathwater several times after she refused to have sex with him, although he denied this was the cause of the argument.

The court heard that on the night of the attack Knell returned home having consumed alcohol after earlier babysitting his son. Prosecuting barrister Ted Magill claimed there was then a confrontation during which the defendant was violent.

It was said that he grabbed the woman by the neck from behind, causing her to fall to the floor. After filling the bath with water, he then dragged the victim into the bathroom before "forcing her head under the water a number of times".

The woman struggled to breathe but was eventually able to get to her feet, after which the defendant lost his grip.

He then took their infant son, left the property and went to his mother's house.

When he was arrested Knell told officers he had been drinking, then gave an interview in which most of his replies were "no comment".

Mr Magill told the court it was clear Knell was "under the influence of drink and drugs". He also revealed the defendant had previous convictions for assaulting the same woman.

Defence barrister Denis Boyd said that while his client accepted the offences, he disputed how and why the argument started.

He claimed Knell "genuinely regretted" his behaviour and disputed the defence's version of events, arguing it was his client's case that he dunked the woman's head under the water twice and there was "no effort to keep her head under the water".

Mr Boyd told Judge Kerr his client "knows what he did was wrong", accepted he has anger issues and also knows the relationship with the woman is "totally finished".

The defence barrister also revealed that Knell, who has been in custody since last summer, was "making great efforts to stay on the straight and narrow".

Judge Kerr said he accepted the defendant was making an effort in custody, noting he had passed four drugs tests.

However, the judge also noted the previous assaults against the same woman and branded last June's incident a "horrifying experience for her."

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