Attack victim feared for her life

A TRAINEE paramedic setting off for work feared for her life in a terrifying ordeal at the hands of her ex-partner.

Dennis Hines ended up sitting astride Gillian Despard with one hand squeezing her throat and the other hand over her mouth. She begged him not to kill her during the incident at her home in Ribchester.

Preston Crown Court heard the experience left her with stress, anxiety and panic attacks.

Hines, of Chester Avenue, Poulton-le-Fylde, appeared at the court for sentencing on his 45th birthday, having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He and Miss Despard had previously had a 10-month relationship, which ended last November.

Miss Jane Dagnall (prosecuting) said the defendant didn’t seem to accept that the relationship had finished. Miss Despard received a number of text and phone calls, often from a withheld number and often containing threatening content. It seemed that he also turned up uninvited at her parents’ home.

On December 2nd she decided to make a complaint of harassment to the police. After returning home to prepare for work she went on to open the front door to leave for work, when the door came “flying open”.

Behind the door was Hines, described as having a look of “madness” on him, not his usual self. He went on to take control of the situation.

Miss Dagnall told the court: “He demanded answers and details about men he believed she may have gone on dates with. She was extremely scared. He pushed her back into the lounge.

“He grabbed her by the neck, forcing her to the floor. As she went down, she banged her head. She was on the floor. He sat astride her. He put a free hand over her mouth and one hand was used to squeeze her throat. She couldn’t breathe. She thought she was going to die. She begged him not to kill her”.

Hines kept telling her how much he loved her and said he would harm himself because he loved her so much. Later Miss Despard went to hospital with bruising to both sides of her neck and also in the middle.

Mr Wayne Jackson (defending) said his client had spent six months remanded in custody – the equivalent of a 12-month jail sentence.

A bundle of papers handed into the court, on behalf of Hines, were said to be glowing references, describing him as a loving, understanding and giving person and someone with “a heart of gold”. He was also said to have expressed sincere apologies in a letter to the court.

Mr Jackson said: “He is deeply apologetic and says he is ashamed and disgusted by his actions. His time on remand in custody has given him ample time to reflect.

“He clearly has difficulty coping with relationships that have been ended, with feelings of rejection. He is very clearly a man who needs some form of intervention.”

The judge, Recorder Mark Ainsworth, said the offence had occured in a place where Miss Despard was entitled to feel safe and secure. Instead she had been terrified for her life.

Passing sentence, he told Hines: “Ordinarily you are a hard-working and decent man. It may well be that for the vast majority of your life you live in that manner.

“You have a problem in domestic situations when relationships fall apart and possibly, you are rejected. The concern is what happens in the future if this situation happens again.”

The judge said he was anxious to ensure such behaviour would not be repeated in future and he was also trying to protect the public.

Hines was given nine months’ prison, suspended for two years, with two years supervision that will include a community domestic violence programme. He must also carry out 175 hours of unpaid work for the community and pay the Miss Despard £750 in compensation.

A restraining order was also made for an indefinite period.