A MAN with a “track record” of violence against partners bit his now-ex girlfriend’s face when she refused to have sex with him, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.
Owen Ackers (21) had already been before the courts in early 2017 for assaulting Sapphire Bassett, prosecutor Rose Burns said.
Just months later, last August, the pair were walking together along a clifftop when he told her he wanted sex. “She refused and he got angry, bit her and left a mark underneath her left eye – causing her to become scared,” the prosecutor added.
Miss Bassett went to the nearby home of her grandmother, but would not allow her injury to be photographed. In a police statement she said the defendant had caused a mark but did not puncture her skin.
Weeks later she got a lift home after a night out drinking and found Ackers waiting for her, Ms Burns said. Ackers called her a “slag” and “bitch”, she said, adding: “He pushed her from behind, causing her to fall face down in the road – and he walked off leaving her crying in the road.”
On another occasion Ackers, who lives at his mother’s address at Lineside, Burton, “completely smashed” the screen of Ms Bassett’s mobile phone, the prosecutor said.
The victim ended her relationship with Ackers in late 2017 – the pair having dated for around eight months – and went to the police over the incidents.
After his arrest the defendant was given an interim restraining order banning him contacting her, yet he sent threatening Facebook messages to her and her new boyfriend, Ms Burns told the court.
Ackers had a lengthy criminal history, the prosecutor said. He first appeared before the youth courts in 2008 – aged just 11 – and had since accrued convictions for battery, criminal damage, theft from a dwelling, sexual assault and shoplifting.
The court heard Ackers was originally charged with five offences, which he denied. But on the day of the trial he pleaded guilty to three counts – two of assault and another of criminal damage – which were accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Defending, Robert Grey said his client had witnessed violence during a difficult upbringing and that instructed his view of, and approach to, relationships. Probation courses that would challenge his thinking and attitudes could only be offered as part of a suspended sentence order, he added.
Ackers was still a young man, had never been to prison and complied with his community order for over a year without offending, Mr Grey pointed out.
Sentencing, Judge Peter Crabtree castigated Ackers for his behaviour. “You utterly breached the trust she could reasonably place in you – that you should treat her with respect,” he said.
Noting Ackers grew up in care, the judge said the defendant’s history of offending – and especially his treatment of women he had been in relationships with – was grave. But Ackers had completed recent community orders, limited his offending and had a job working for Europarts car firm.
Judge Crabtree ordered Ackers to complete rehabilitation courses, including a 42-day programme that instructs on building relationships.
“It seems to me there is a public interest in undertaking rehabilitation to ensure that future partners are protected – as well as Sapphire Bassett – from your behaviour, and which would not be available were a short custodial sentence imposed that would result in you being released in a matter of weeks,” he said. “That will address your thinking skills to make sure you do not commit future offences – you have a track record of violence to partners.”
Ordering Ackers to pay £750 compensation to Ms Bassett, Judge Crabtree stressed the restraining order meant he should not contact Ms Bassett or go to where she lived or worked.
“You’ve been very lucky this time,” he told Ackers. “Had there been any [skin] puncture from the bite the charges would have been ABH [assault occasioning actual bodily harm] or wounding – that carries a maximum five-year term and we would have been in a totally different ballpark.”
Judge Crabtree also took the step of ordering any potential future cases involving Ackers be referred to him, and warned the defendant he would not hesitate to lock him up to protect the public and women were he to reoffend.