Ballymena Court: Man given jail term for spitting in face of woman he ‘flung about like a rag doll’

The court heard an incident happened at this filling station. General scene picture from Google Maps.

A MAN who spat in a woman’s face, grabbed her by the throat, and, in the words of a judge, “flung about like a rag doll,” has been given a four months jail term.

Ryan Christopher John Hatton (37), with an address listed as Glenarm Court in Ballymena, was at Ballymena Magistrates Court for sentencing on a charge of assaulting a woman, occasioning her actual bodily harm, on February 16 this year.

He had previously pleaded guilty.

A prosecutor said police attended Landscape Filling Station in Belfast following a report of an assault and spoke to a staff member who alleged a female had been assaulted in the forecourt.

The woman was still present and appeared upset and disorientated but was reluctant to speak but then said she had been assaulted by her partner “through the night and then going on to this incident at the filling station,” the prosecutor added.

The prosecutor said the woman alleged that Hatton had punched her “ten times” to the head and face at the forecourt and police noticed bruising and bumps on her face.

After complaining of pain to her throat and having difficulty swallowing she was taken to hospital.

CCTV showed Hatton grab the woman “aggressively by the scruff of the neck” and then throw her into a pile of boxes before a staff member intervened.

The defendant then grabbed the injured party by the throat, pushed her towards a wall and spat in her face from close range.

After watching the CCTV Hatton admitted what he had done during a police interview.

The court heard there had been a “plethora” of previous reports to police regarding domestic violence.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said he wished, from the outset, to say that any incident of domestic violence “must be condemned”.

After reading the case papers and looking at the CCTV footage – which was not before the court – “one can only be taken aback and shocked,” Mr Moore said.

He said Hatton and his now former partner had been out and had consumed alcohol and while that was “never an excuse” it “does paint a history and a backstory”.

The lawyer added: “This was a row which had started the night before” and “spilled through the entire night into the next day”.

The defendant, who had a lengthy record, is on a waiting list for the ‘Building Better Relationships’ Course, the court heard.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the case had all the hallmarks of being a “very harrowing assault” which was so serious a filling station employee “quite properly” phoned police.

He said Hatton had a lengthy domestic violence history involving the same victim and said courts take a “stern” approach to domestic violence.

The judge said the female victim had been grabbed by the throat, spat upon in the face and “flung about like a rag doll”.

He jailed Hatton for four months but the defence lodged an appeal on the sum of £500.

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