Dog had to be put down after being traumatised by domestic violence
A pet dog was so traumatised by an incident of domestic abuse that vets decided it needed to be put down.
Samuel Johnson, 34, throttled his girlfriend in a drink and drug-fuelled rage in which he also battered the Staffordshire Bull Terrier – but he avoided jail on Tuesday.
Johnson threw his victim to the floor, strangled her and ‘gratuitously’ kicked her dog repeatedly, as it tried desperately to protect her in the vicious attack.
The woman’s young son was upstairs while he assaulted her and the dog in her living room. The pet was left so traumatised by the serious domestic abuse that she had to be put down by the vets just months later, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
Previously cautioned for domestic violence against another woman, the violent ex-boyfriend avoided an immediate jail term for actual bodily harm as he was handed a suspended sentence.
The court heard it was Johnson’s third incident of Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) – the second which relates to a partner. The judge branded it a ‘very worrying pattern’.
Sentencing Johnson to a four month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, Judge Mukherjee QC said Johnson – a former soldier – had the power to inflict serious damage with his fists and an issue with his temper.
He touched upon his ‘worrying’ history of two other ABH offences, one inflicted upon a previous partner, and said future girlfriends need ‘protecting’.
The court heard that Johnson is now seeing a psychiatrist in relation to his time in the army, though his defence solicitor said the most recent assault could not entirely be attributed to his traumas.
Defending, Ms Morgan, told the court: ‘He is under a psychiatrist and is now on a considerable amount of medication.
She added: ‘His previous convictions I have to accept and so does he, one of which is very similar – it was a domestic violence case [so] I can’t attribute everything to his traumas.
‘Clearly there are drug problems in the past and very heavy drinking problems, but he has abstained himself. He has not been in the best place. I ask you to give this man a chance to turn his life around.’
Sentencing, Judge Mukherjee, told Johnson: ‘You have lost your good name. You have well and truly fallen from grace. After everything you have done in your career, particularly for this country, you have now found yourself on the receiving end of your first two convictions.
‘[Your last offence] was not so long ago that it leads me to believe that there is a very real issue with you, with your temper, your fists and hands. You are an extremely powerful man.’
He continued: ‘You could cause very serious damage to someone if you wanted to. Although this was a serious assault, you and I both recognise that the injuries could have been a lot worse and maybe you realised what you were doing, but not before you had displayed significant violence to [the victim], someone I assume you cared for and she reciprocated.
‘I hope you have seen the photos of her injuries and heard the victim impact statement. It is telling that she is desperately disappointed in what you have done to her.
‘She says: “I’m absolutely heartbroken that this offence happened.” That is something you are going to have to live with.’
Warning Johnson about his future conduct, Judge Mukherjee went on: ‘My view is that I am going to impose four months imprisonment. I’m not going to make you serve it today. I’m going to take a more constructive approach.
‘You must stay out of trouble. If you use your fists unlawfully again or indeed, commit any criminal offence… You will have proven to me that I made a mistake.’
Johnson was ordered to attend rehabilitation for 30 days along with a structured intervention for domestic abuse course.
The judge imposed a restraining order against contacting the victim for ten years, both indirectly and directly.
If the order is breached Johnson will go to prison, the judge added.