Wingate abuser strangled pregnant partner during 'cowardly and unprovoked' attack

Barnes carried out the attack on 29 March, when the woman was 21 weeks pregnant. Credit: NCJ Media

A man strangled his pregnant partner and threatened to push her down a flight of stairs during a "cowardly and unprovoked" attack.

On 29 March, Lee Barnes had been out drinking when he turned up to his then-partner's home and began shouting abuse which made "no sense", a court heard.

The 31-year-old then launched a violent attack, punching and strangling the woman.

At one point, Barnes picked up a kitchen knife and threatened to stab himself before saying he was going to throw her down a flight of stairs.

Barnes, of North Road West, Wingate, County Durham, appeared at Durham Crown Court on Wednesday 21 December to be sentenced for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He had been convicted of the offence after a trial at a magistrates' court.

The court heard Barnes carried out the attack when the woman was 21 weeks pregnant.

Matthew Hopkins, prosecuting, said: "The defendant turned up at her home after he'd been out drinking. He was shouting about finding out about the truth and was making no sense. He picked up the sofa and flipped it before he grabbed her by the throat."

The court was told that during the incident, Barnes picked up a kitchen knife and said he would stab himself and "make it look like she had done it".

He then walked away and told the woman to pack his things. Mr Hopkins said: "He then chased after her and she told him she wished her unborn baby was not his.

"He grabbed her and shouted 'your wish is my command' and said he would throw her down the stairs and she would lose the baby. She managed to run back into the living room."

Mr Hopkins added: "He pressed his head against her's and strangled her until her vision started to go black and she could feel herself twitching."

After strangling her, Barnes later refused to leave and dragged her by her neck to the stairs before she broke free. He then punched her before he eventually left the home, taking her house keys and throwing them into the street in the process.

The woman went to hospital after she sustained swelling and tenderness. No issues were caused to the unborn baby and Barnes - who had one previous conviction for shoplifting - was later arrested.

Martin Towers, defending, said Barnes was "very lightly convicted" and had since moved away from the area. He said: "He has a number of mental health related issues and is on a 10 year mental health care plan.

"He is a man who the probation service feel they could work with."

Mr Towers added it was an "isolated incident" and that Barnes is "not a lost cause".

Sentencing Barnes, Recorder Edward Legard, said the attack was "cowardly and unprovoked" and the "result of misplaced jealousy." Barnes was jailed for 20 months and a five year restraining order was imposed.

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