A former soldier has avoided prison after he sneaked into his former partner’s home and assaulted her on New Year’s Day.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that Neil Stephen, an ex-squaddie who served in Afghanistan, slipped into the home of his ex-girlfriend to “apologise” but became angry and repeatedly punched her in the face.
It resulted in the terrified woman fleeing the property in Inverbervie in the middle of the night and screaming for help from neighbours.
The 42-year-old has now pled guilty to two charges – that he assaulted the woman by repeatedly hitting her and breaching an order not to go near her.
Woman ran into the street screaming for help
Fiscal depute David Rogers told the court that on December 31 last year neighbours had noticed Stephen in the area and that he “appeared to be drunk”.
He was told by his former partner that he was not allowed inside the property and an argument started, with a witness hearing shouting in the street from her window.
“She then heard a door bang and the accused walking away from the locus,” Mr Rogers said.
“At around 3am the complainer was asleep in her bedroom and she was awoken by the sound of two loud bangs.
“She saw the accused come into her bedroom on his knees apologising for the previous incident.
“He was asked to leave and he became extremely aggressive and grabbed the complainer by her pyjamas, causing them to rip.
“She tried to leave the house, at which point the accused punched her twice to the left side of the face.”
Managing to escape Stephen’s grip, the woman then ran into the street and started screaming for help.
She banged on her neighbours’ doors in the hope that one of them would wake up and come to her aid.
Mr Rogers added: “A number of witnesses were awoken and went to assist, at which point they were informed by the victim that she was assaulted by the accused.”
A group of neighbours then went to the woman’s home to remove Stephen and the police were called.
Ex-soldier was recently diagnosed with PTSD
Defence agent Kevin Longino told the court that his client – who was absent after testing positive for Covid-19 – had been recently diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his time in Afghanistan.
He added: “Mr Stephen has been self-medicating with alcohol, which may also have been an issue here.
“Overindulgence of alcohol is a common issue that arises during the New Year period and that is a significant factor.
“I’m not in any way putting that forward as an excuse, it is simply a statement of fact and the behaviour described is wholly consistent with someone who is not fully aware of what they are doing because they have got themselves very drunk.
“That sits on top of the other problems that I referred to and creates a cocktail where his behaviour is not appropriate.”
Sheriff Philip Mann told the court that “the particular circumstances of this case are unusual” but said that he was prepared to deal with it in Mr Stephen’s absence, pointing out that this was Stephen’s fifth domestic aggravation before the court.
As an alternative to prison, he handed Stephen, of Kincorth Circle, Aberdeen, a community payback order with two years supervision and 140 hours of unpaid work.
The sheriff also ordered him to take part in a domestic abuse programme and put a two-year non-harassment order in place.
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