Man put bag over girl as she slept

A man who tried to suffocate his girlfriend with a plastic bag while she slept has been jailed for seven years.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th October 2012, 12:29 pm

Leon Stobbart. 24, sent threatening text messages to his girlfriend while on a night out on March 16 saying he was going to kill her.

Preston Crown Court heard he went back to his home address in Willow Close, Forton, and put the bag over her head as she slept.

When she began to struggle Stobbart punched her repeatedly to the face and then tried to smother her with a pillow. The attack only stopped after neighbours heard her screams and police arrived at the address.

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Stobbart, who had earlier pleaded guilty to a section 18 wounding offence, was jailed for seven years.

Honour Judge Russell said the relationship had been a troubled one in which Stobbart had been left jealous by his girlfriend’s previous partners.

He described the attack as ‘a very serious assault.’

He added: “It is remarkable there were no lasting injuries sustained after such a prolonged attack. This was a very serious offence.”

In addition to the seven year prison sentence the judge made an indefinite restraining order.

Prosecutor Mr Paul Cummings told the court that the victim, Catherine Simpson and Stobbart had been in a relationship for six years and had three young children.

The night of the attack, Miss Simpson had been at home with the children while Stobbart was on a night out.

The couple exchanged a series of text messages over the course of the evening, which developed into a row over Miss Simpson’s previous relationship.

She asked Stobbart not to be annoyed when he came home but sensing a change in his mood, she went to bed, making sure the back door was left unlocked and the bedroom window open.

A final message to Miss Simpson said: “I’m not mad but I am going to kill you.” He later told police it had been a figure of speech and he hadn’t intended on carrying out the threat.

Mr Cummings told the court Miss Simpson had been in bed asleep when she woke to find Stobbart holding a plastic bag over her face. He then punched her before attempting to smother her with a pillow, while pulling her hair.

She managed to fight her way free but he then dragged her from the bed and repeatedly kicked her.

Her screams and noise of the children woke the neighbours who could hear Stobbart shouting and called the police.

Miss Simpson suffered extensive bruising to her face and body.

During interview, Stobbart told police Miss Simpson had caused her own injuries after falling out of bed and hitting the wall. He said it was Miss Simpson who had been aggressive and he had been attempting to calm her down.

Mr Cummings added Stobbart had a number of previous convictions, including offences of violence dating back over six years. Police had been called to the couple’s home nine times since 2007.

Defending barrister Mr Michael Hayton said Stobbart was a ‘hard working but a hard drinking man’ and though his record did him no favours, had found himself before the crown court for the first time.

He said: “This was an appaling incident with children both at home and present throughout.”

But he added Stobbart had started to show the beginnings of realisation of the unacceptability of his behaviour towards women, his family and home.