18-year-old man sentenced after non-fatal strangulation incident in Hitchin

A sign for the Magistrates' Court in Stevenage

Bilal Benelbadia, aged 18, of Hazlewood Crescent, London, has been sentenced at Stevenage Magistrates' Court after admitting to non-fatal strangulation - Credit: Will Durrant

An 18-year-old man has avoided going to prison after strangling a woman in Hitchin.

Bilal Benelbadia, of Hazlewood Crescent in North Kensington, London, appeared at St Albans Magistrates' Court on Friday, July 22, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of non-fatal strangulation.

He also admitted to causing damage to the victim's house in Fishponds Road, as well as causing damage to several vehicles which were parked along the street when the attack took place - at around 4.20pm on Thursday, July 21.

He was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Stevenage Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, August 23.

According to police officers in Hertfordshire, a verbal altercation between a man and a woman turned physical and the man  - Benelbadia - grabbed his victim by the neck and forced her to the ground. 

Benelbadia went on to cause damage to the inside of the woman's house and to nearby vehicles.

Officers from Hertfordshire Constabulary arrested the teenager when they arrived on the scene.

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He was charged with non-fatal strangulation, which became its own criminal offence on June 7 this year. This new offence carries a maximum of five years in prison.

A police spokesperson said incidents such as this one were dealt with using charges such as actual bodily harm (ABH).

In addition to his suspended sentence, Benelbadia was ordered to complete a six-month alcohol treatment program and 25 days of rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR).

The 18-year-old must also pay compensation for the criminal damage, totalling £1,103.80.

DC Nathalia Smith said: "Thankfully in this incident, the victim was not seriously injured.

"Strangling someone, even momentarily, is incredibly dangerous and we are pleased that this is now recognised as a criminal offence – we take these offences very seriously and will use this new legislation to get justice for victims."

She added the Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor hotline can talk through non-fatal strangulation incidents on 0300 790 6772. Live incidents can be reported using the 999 emergency number.