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Man accused of serious assault tells trial he punched partner because she was trying bite his chin off

Aberdeen Sheriff Court
The remote jury centre at the Vue cinema.

A man accused of assaulting his partner, and leaving her with a fractured eye socket and cheekbone, has told a court he hit her because he thought she was going to bite his chin off.

Keith Harper denies assaulting his partner at the time by punching her to the head, causing her to fall onto a chair, and then repeatedly punching her to the head and body to her severe injury.

At the start of the second day of the trial, the indictment was amended to read that Harper punched his partner on the head, causing her to fall onto a chair, and thereafter punched her on the body, all to her severe injury.

It is alleged the incident took place on January 22 2019 at Harper’s flat at the time on Lamond Place, Aberdeen.

Harper took to the witness stand

The 55-year-old has lodged a special defence of self-defence and has now taken to the witness stand during his trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to explain his position.

Under questioning from defence agent Gregor Kelly, Harper, now of Fullerton Court, Aberdeen, told the court his partner at the time, Rachel Thomson, had collapsed on his bed before murmuring an offensive comment about his daughter and saying: “I’m just using you.”

Harper said he told Ms Thomson to leave and was asked by Mr Kelly what happened next.

He replied: “She dived over the sofa and bit on to my chin. I begged her, asked her to let go because the bite was getting really clamped on.”

Harper said she did not let go, and added: “I pushed her with my right to get her to release.”

Asked if it was a push or a punch he accepted: “I punched her.”

He went on: “It was just an instant reaction to break free.”

Harper continued: “She started walking fast towards the kitchen area. I physically grabbed her with my hands and we had a bit of a struggle to get her to the front door.

“I managed to open the door and push her with both hands and lock the door.”

Mr Kelly said: “She said you punched her to the back of the neck. Did that happen?”

Harper replied: “I swear I didn’t do that.”

Cross-examination

Asked by fiscal depute Katy Begg about the incident, Harper said: “I just wanted to get free and get her off me. I didn’t mean to do that, I just wanted to get her off me.”

Ms Begg asked Harper: “What level of force do you say she used to clamp her teeth on to your chin?”

He replied: “It felt like she wanted to bite my chin off.”

The fiscal said: “Do you accept it would have been open to you to attempt to use your hands to push her away?”

Harper replied: “Looking back, I wish I’d tried that but it happened so fast and I panicked.”

Ms Begg put it to Harper that he gave Ms Thomson a “punch for good measure” on her way out of the flat, to which he replied: “I certainly did not.”

The fiscal added: “I’m suggesting to you you are making this up as you go along to try and protect yourself.”

Harper said: “Absolutely not.”

Following Harper’s evidence, the Crown and defence gave closing speeches to the jury.

The trial continues.

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