Man accused of assaulting girlfriend and throwing puppy down flight of stairs

The alleged incident happened at a house in Tate's Avenue
The alleged incident happened at a house in Tate's Avenue

A 32-year old Belfast man went on trial in the city’s Crown Court on Tuesday, charged with battering his partner and causing unnecessary suffering to her eight-month old puppy.

Joseph Henry Smyth, from Hillhead Cottages on Shaws Road, is being tried on three offences arising from an alleged domestic incident in south Belfast last September.

It is the Crown’s case that a drunken Smyth attacked his then-girlfriend in numerous areas of her Tate’s Avenue home before kicking her off a first floor bay windowsill as she tried to escape.

During the incident, he is also accused of grabbing her eight-month old puppy - a mini-schnauzer called Sophie - and throwing the dog both against a wall then down a flight of stairs.

The 28-year old woman, who had been in a relationship with Smyth for several months during last September’s incident, sustained a number of wounds which needed hospital treatment. These included an 8cm wound to her head which required staples, a fractured hand and a broken nose.

Smyth - who Belfast Crown Court heard was found hiding in the woman’s hotpress - denies attacking her and causing her grievous bodily harm with intent, causing her dog suffering and also assaulting police.

He has made the case that on the day in question, Monday September 14, 2015, the woman was under the influence of drugs, worked herself into a rage which included throwing things about, and that she fell off the windowsill herself.

During the first day of the trial, the jury of eight men and four women were told that it was up to them to determine who to believe - the alleged injured party, or Smyth. Telling the jury they had to decide “who is telling the truth”, prosecuting barrister Robin Steer said it was the Crown’s case that Smyth attacked his partner after drinking beer and vodka.

Revealing that last September the couple had been together for a couple of months, Mr Steer said Smyth called to the woman’s home at around 2pm, with the assault occurring at around 9pm.

He said that after being told by the woman that he had to leave as she was going to tech the following morning, Smyth “flipped”. He has been accused of - but denies - grabbing the woman’s eight-month old puppy which he then threw against a wall then down a flight of stairs.

The woman said that when the dog hit the front door, Smyth laughed. She said she was able to get into the living room and managed to put the dog out the living room window and to safety before she was trailed up the stairs by the hair by Smyth.

Whilst on the first floor of the house, it is the Crown’s case that Smyth attacked the woman at various locations. During the attack, Smyth is accused of beating her around the head with a hoover pipe as well as repeatedly punching her in the face and head.

She claimed that she managed to get onto a windowsill on the second floor to try and escape from Smyth by levering herself down a drainpipe - but that Smyth appeared, told her “I will help you” then kicked her off the windowsill, causing her to fall onto the pavement below.

The alarm was raised and the woman was rushed to the A&E department in the Royal, where she was treated for numerous wounds. Whilst she was at hospital, police arrived at her home. During an initial search of the house, they found no-one in the property.

However, after an officer standing outside the property noticed a light go on and off, a dog handler team went back inside, and Smyth was located hiding under bedding in the hotpress. Following his arrest, Smyth spat at a police constable.

When he was interviewed the following day, Smyth made a ‘no comment’ response to police questions, but denied via his solicitor the offences. He has since made the case that the woman was on drugs and in a rage on September 14 last year.

At hearing