London

Pregnant girlfriend attacker given reduced sentence

A man who twice attacked his pregnant girlfriend has had his sentence cut after the judge held both responsible for the "difficult relationship".

Liam Richardson, 22, fractured Lia Thompson's eye socket in an attack in a hotel in May, three months after attacking her at her south London home.

On both occasions Miss Thompson, 31, escaped and ran naked looking for help.

Richardson, of West Croydon, had a possible 30-month jail term set at 18 months as he showed "real remorse".

At the Old Bailey, Judge Jeremy Roberts also told Richardson - who admitted grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm - he was cutting the sentence because the abuser had shown "increasing signs of maturity".

"This was clearly a difficult relationship and I am sure that not all the rights were on one side and all the wrongs on the other side," the judge said.

'Threats to kill'

Deborah McIlveen, the policy and services manager for Women's Aid, criticised the decision as "yet another miscarriage of justice for a victim of domestic violence which fails to understand its long-term and potentially fatal nature".

"Most perpetrators of domestic violence show remorse and yet they continue to use a range of abusive behaviours, including physical violence, to control their partners and ex-partners."

In the first attack Miss Thompson was beaten at her Brixton home in front of her 13-year-old son.

Richardson dragged her to her room before tearing her dress and repeatedly hitting her, leaving her with swelling and cuts to her face.

He also threatened to "kill her and her son", said Peter Pride, prosecuting.

She escaped and ran naked to a neighbour for help. But later she refused to cooperate with the police as she wanted their relationship to work, the court heard.

The second attack, in May, took place in a hotel room in Clapham during which he repeatedly punched her in the face as he straddled her.

She fled, again naked, climbing down a fire escape and sought help at reception, the court heard.

'Completely wrong'

The Old Bailey heard that Miss Thompson did not know about Thursday's hearing as she was in hospital for their baby's birth and had not prepared a victim impact statement.

Judge Roberts decided not to wait and said: "It is rather doubtful whether she would wish to add anything so I am inclined to proceed today.

"If it turns out that I am completely wrong then the matter could be revisited.

"Unless there is a good reason for postponing sentencing, we have to work on the basis that sentencing will be dealt with immediately after the plea."

Judge Roberts told the defendant he could have received a 30-month sentence but it would instead be reduced to 18 months.

He could be out of prison in six months taking into account time spent on remand and release half way through his sentence.

A restraining order has been imposed to prevent Richardson from contacting Miss Thompson but he will be able to see his child through a third party.

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