This is the Coleraine thug and gutless bully boy who faces a lengthy jail term for physically attacking his heavily pregnant girlfriend.
Last Friday at Antrim Crown Court, the beautiful brunette shook her head and wiped away a few tears as a lawyer recounted the treatment meted out to her by her then boyfriend, habitual woman beater 25-year- old Gary Woods.
Woods, from Clairhill Park in Coleraine, is to be sentenced for three 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 had at one time been charged with trying to destroy the unborn baby but that count was not proceeded with by the prosecution.
Last Friday, prosecuting lawyer George Chesney told the court how the charges related to two separate incidents, one at the start of September just a few weeks after Woods had been released from jail and the other four months later.
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He described how Woods’ pregnant partner was a classroom assistant at primary school and when her “concerned” work colleagues asked how she was, “she said she was okay but then burst into tears and generally broke down and became hysterical.”
It was then that she first disclosed she was “frightened” because Woods was due to collect her that afternoon, showing them bruising around her neck where she had been grabbed and told them clumps of her hair had been “pulled out.”
That had happened when the couple had been arguing and she left the room but he followed her into the bathroom where he pushed her to the floor and grabbed her “around the neck.”
Her work colleagues were so concerned they called the police who took the victim to her mum’s house but she did me make a statement at that time, said Mr Chesney.
Describing the relationship as “very much on-off,” Mr Chesney said the couple were back living together by the time of the second, more serious incident and Woods’ victim was eight months pregnant.
On the day of the incident, the couple had been at an interview with Social Services but when they got home Woods started a for, claiming that she “didn’t stand up for him during the meeting by denying there was violence in the relationship.”
While she was at her nearby mum’s house, Woods went out and got drunk, appearing back in the early hours of the morning.
Mr Chesney said the couple went to their house “to try to sort things out” but when they got there, “he got it into his head, wrongly, that the complainant had had a man in the house” which started another row.
“During the next few hours he held her against her will and he attacked her a number of times,” said the lawyer.
Mr Chesney recounted how Woods “hit her in the face, put his hands around her neck, kicked her in the lower back and punched her in the stomach.”
“At times he was loving, at times he was attentive and then he would become violent again,” the court heard.
Woods eventually fell asleep but even then, his terrified victim was too scared to leave in case she woke him and he began to attack her again.
Her opportunity to make a break for safety came when a window cleaner knocked at the door and she “ rushed to her mother’s house and escaped.”
“She was taken to hospital and obviously there was great concern about the unborn child,” said Mr Chesney but added that thankfully, “there was no harm to the baby.”
Although she had been hurt, the lawyer said her injuries were mainly superficial “but there was obviously the fear that she experienced when she was falsely imprisoned and the fear that the unborn baby had been injured.”
Woods was arrested later that day but denied the assaults, claiming instead that his victim was “the controller in the relationship and she was aggressive at home.”
As Mr Chesney declared however, his claims are not and were not accepted by the police or prosecution and revealed that he has “an extensive relevant record” including several aggravated assaults and breaching non-molestation orders.
The lawyer argued that given the record, the attack represented a “serious escalation” in his offending so he was a serious danger to the public.
Defence lawyer Francis Rafferty submitted that Woods’ offences had to date been dealt with in the magistrates and that he had not caused serious injury to anyone so was not dangerous.
The lawyer said Woods had grown up in a household where violence was “the norm” which while not an excuse did explain his offending.
Remanding Woods back into custody, Judge Brian Sherard said he wanted to reflect on the case, the reports and all the background before passing sentence on 17 April.