A young mum who suffered repeated abuse at the hands of her violent boyfriend today described the hell she was put through.
Rebecca Tilford was pushed down the stairs, punched in the face and kicked between the legs during a savage and prolonged assault.
The 27-year-old, from Kirkham, who was left with bruises all over her body, said: “I thought I was going to die.”
But former solder Louis Shelton, who was serving a suspended sentence at the time for a previous attack on her, was jailed for just 20 weeks.
Blackpool magistrates, who blasted his ‘cowardly’ actions, heard it was the third time Shelton, 28, had assaulted her.
Yet he was charged with common assault, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail – which had to be reduced because he pleaded guilty.
I thought I was going to die
Mum-of-three Rebecca said: “The sentence feels like nothing. Afterwards I just kept saying I was glad to be alive – I have had dreams about it every night since.”
On December 19, the court heard, Shelton, of Maplewood Drive, Anchorsholme, started ‘going mad’ and yelled at her to get out of his house. He then chased her when she returned later the get her phone.
Speaking after the hearing she said: “I just ran away as quickly as I could. He followed me and I got halfway down the stairs and he just pushed me. I fell down. Then he kicked me four or five times in the privates.
“He punched me in the face and the nose. My nose started pouring with blood.
“I thought he was going to see I was covered in blood and stop but he looked me square in the eyes and said: ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I just put my arms up to protect my face and I was screaming ‘help me, help me’.
“I thought I wasn’t going to be with my kids at Christmas. I thought I was going to die.”
She said she does not know how she managed to escape but a neighbour, who had come outside after hearing her screams, let her in while Shelton stood naked, yelling to her from the street. The 27-year-old, who has three daughters aged nine, six and one, added: “Luckily my daughters weren’t there – they were with my dad.”
Presiding magistrate Mark Cowburn told Shelton: “We treat incidents of domestic violence very seriously and this was without a shadow of doubt a cowardly act. The victim was vulnerable and the assault prolonged.”
David Charnley, defending, said his client had derved in the army and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and anger issues.
He added: “He accepts he was out of order and went too far. He says he can’t say whether he pushed her on the stairs or she fell during the scuffle.
“He says he did not hit her head on the wall.”
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it decided to charge Shelton with common assault, instead of the more serious offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Sentencing guidelines given to magistrates show the possible sentences for the most serious common assaults range from a community order to 26 weeks in jail. Had he faced the more serious charge, Shelton could have been sent to the crown court where he would have faced up to five years behind bars.
A CPS spokesman said: “The prosecutors have charging standards they apply, which give guidance about the level of charge.
“The charge has to reflect the injury that has resulted from incidents. For something like ABH, it would indicate, perhaps, injuries that have required stitches or hospital treatment.”