A ROW over a cigarette brought about a, “prolonged persistent assault”, on a woman by her husband which led to him receiving a 27-month prison sentence.

Robert Gillespie was branded, “a violent thug and bully” by a judge who also made him subject of restraining orders, prohibiting him from contacting or approaching either his now estranged wife and her mother, “indefinitely”.

Durham Crown Court was told the incident on May 10, in the bedroom of their Coxhoe home, Gillespie punched his wife forcefully in the hip.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said she got up and said she wanted to leave, which further aggravated Gillespie, who grabbed her, pushed her against a door and squeezed her neck two or three times.

Mr Soppitt said she later said she was struggling to breathe as her neck was squeezed while she suffered a soft tissue injury to her hand in trying to protect herself from his punches.

She left to seek sanctuary at a friend’s house, but Gillespie phoned, accusing her of being a “slag” and telling her she, “deserved a slap”.

When it was reported to police, previous domestic violence at Gillespie’s hands, including him fracturing her wrist, in 2017, emerged.

Mr Soppitt said as a post script to the incident, Gillespie went to his mother-in-law’s home “in a rage”, smashing the cover of a hot tub, causing £350 damage.

Gillespie, 34, of Bridge View, Fishburn, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.

The court was told his record includes past domestic violence, plus other assaults.

In a victim statement his wife said after an initial few months in 2016, the violent outbursts began, but Gillespie made her feel responsible, although he would promise it would not happen again.

After marrying in 2018 she hoped the abuse would end, but it was not to be the case.

Jennifer Coxon, in mitigation, said it was “clear” in a probation report that Gillespie now accepts his responsibility for his actions and the need to address anger management, alcohol, and, sometimes, drug abuse issues

She said he suffered mentally from past difficulties in his life which he found difficult to deal with, turning to drink.

Jailing him, Judge Ray Singh told Gillespie: “I’m afraid you are a violent thug and bully, and the only respite that can be offered to your victims is by locking you up.”


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