Beds, Herts & Bucks

John McAleer jailed for life for throwing Danielle Hammond over balcony

John McAleer Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption John McAleer had told the trial he "stumbled into" Danielle Hammond

A man has been jailed for 15 years after throwing his girlfriend off the balcony of a fourth-floor flat, leaving her severely injured.

John McAleer, 24, denied trying to kill Danielle Hammond, 21, at a property in Hemel Hempstead in June.

St Albans Crown Court heard McAleer, of Belsize Road, was seen lifting Ms Hammond before she went over a railing.

Judge Marie Catterson said he posed a "severe risk" and would serve 15 years in prison and five more on licence.

Live: McAleer told court 'he loved girlfriend to bits'

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Danielle Hammond suffered bleeding around the brain and a fractured skull

Ms Hammond fell 45ft (14m) from a flat at Lord Alexander House and landed in bushes and on a manhole cover.

She survived the fall, but suffered a fractured skull, bleeding around the brain and major trauma to her abdominal organs.

Her wrists were also broken and her hearing and speech have been impaired. She has no memory of what happened.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Ms Hammond fell from the balcony of the fourth-floor flat of Lord Alexander House

McAleer was convicted of attempted murder in November.

In the witness box, he accepted the couple had rows but told the court: "I loved her to bits, I love her to bits".

Det Ch Insp Jerome Kent, from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: "Whilst the victim will never fully recover from what happened to her, the sentence which has been given to John McAleer fully reflects the severity of his actions and I hope will bring some comfort to her."

Image copyright SBNA
Image caption A friend of the couple said he saw McAleer throw Ms Hammond over the balcony

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