A FORMER Army sergeant who attacked his soldier girlfriend three times in less than three months has been spared immediate prison.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how 41-year-old Paul John Morris and Zoe Savage began a relationship in 2015 which became “volatile”.
On August 16, in a tent at the Park Foot camp site, Ullswater, he ripped “big chunks of his partner’s hair out” before beginning an attack during which he strangled and hit her as she yelled for help. One witness described hearing a “blood-curdling scream” and saw clumps of hair “dotted around the tent”.
Bleeding heavily, Miss Savage suffered an open wound to her right eyebrow; was left with facial scarring which, she said, makes me feel ugly”; and had “numerous bald patches”.
In late May, at a barbecue in Catterick, North Yorkshire, Morris launched a glass which struck Miss Savage “square in the face”, leaving her with a cut to her nose and a gash around her hairline. And, between July 1 and August 1, at their then home at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, Morris grabbed her head, hit it against a wall and punched her to her face.
He was sentenced today (FRI) having admitted causing Miss Savage grievous bodily harm along with charges of common assault and actual bodily harm assault.
His lawyer, Mark Shepherd, sought to put forward personal mitigation he described as “powerful”.
Mr Shepherd drew attention to the defendant’s difficult family circumstances and post-traumatic stress disorder which was then undetected but had since been diagnosed.
Mr Shepherd described a “mutually toxic” relationship with the victim which had since ended. He said Morris had been discharged from the Army following 22 years’ “exemplary” service, and that he now required “long-term intensive therapy”.
After hearing mitigation, Judge Davies suspended a 22-month jail term for two years. Morris, of Coupar Angus, Perthshire, must complete 150 hours’ unpaid work and supervision.
“Your Army record saves you,” said Judge Davies of the suspended sentence. But he added: “Persistent and continuous domestic violence such as you exhibited will not be tolerated.”