Jail for Coleraine man’s attack on pregnant girlfriend

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A north Antrim man was yesterday handed a 30-month jail sentence after he admitted twice attacking his heavily pregnant girlfriend.

At Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Newtownards, 25-year-old Gary Woods was ordered to serve half his sentence in jail and the rest on supervised licence.

The attacks were described by Judge Brian Sherrard as “something out of a horror film.”

Also imposing a five-year restraining order, barring Woods from contacting his victim, the judge told him that he had great difficulty finding “any personal mitigating factors” apart from his guilty pleas.

He advised Woods that if he did not change his ways, “a far greater sentence will be the loss of family life”.

Woods, from Clairhill Park in Coleraine, had earlier pleaded guilty to offences against his former partner – common assault on a date unknown between 31 August and 10 September 2013, and further offences of false imprisonment and inflicting actual bodily harm on 31 January 2014.

The father-of-five has previous convictions for violence against former partners.

Although a probation officer had assessed Woods as posing a serious danger to the public, the judge said he did not agree – although he did think it highly likely that Woods would reoffend.

Defence lawyer Francis Rafferty submitted that Woods’ offences had to date been dealt with in the magistrates courts and that he had not caused serious injury to anyone so was not dangerous.

The lawyer said Woods, a father of five children, had grown up in a household where violence was “the norm” which while not an excuse, did explain his offending.

In jailing Woods, who smiled and laughed as he left the dock in handcuffs, Judge Sherrard declared that time and again, the courts had made clear that “domestic violence cannot and will not be tolerated”.