Stevenage domestic violence victim bit off chunk of ex-partner’s nose in self defence

Michael McKenna outside Stevenage Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Michael McKenna outside Stevenage Magistrates' Court yesterday. - Credit: Archant

The bitter breakdown of a relationship was played out in public yesterday as a court heard of a couple’s fractured relationship.

Stevenage magistrates heard claim and counterclaim as Michael McKenna, 30, denied charges of assaulting his former partner, harassment and theft.

After deliberating for hours they convicted him of assault after being told how he battered Toni Skutela at the flat they shared in the town’s Lonsdale Court.

Labourer McKenna, who now lives in South London, repeatedly hit her in the face after an argument got out of hand, leaving her with two black eyes, a swollen cheek and bruises – but he claimed that hitting the woman was the only way to fend off her attacks.

The first assault happened in April when the couple got into an argument after having a few drinks with friends. Miss Skutela claimed in court that McKenna accused her of flirting with his friend, while he claimed the opposite.

McKenna pinned her down on her bed and repeatedly punched her in the face. She managed to wriggle free and bit the end of his nose off.

After finding him guilty, chair of the bench Leah Bretton told him: “We are satisfied that you were the aggressor and we do not accept that you acted in self defence. We find you guilty.”

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The assault was reported to the police at the time, but the couple did not want to take it further. Miss Skutela was given a caution for biting his nose, after saying she was the aggressor.

In court she said she told the police this because she did not want to get McKenna into any trouble.

The second assault happened in May when the couple went out to the Drapers Arms in Stevenage Old Town.

As they were returning, they got into a heated argument and Miss Skutela – who was driving – told McKenna to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way home.

When he got back she tried to speak to him and touched him on the arm. He reacted violently, punching her and throwing her around the flat.

Again he claimed he acted in self defence.

McKenna was charged in September after the break down of their relationship in August.

Early in August McKenna was arrested on suspicious of grievous bodily harm when Miss Skutela claimed that he had stabbed her.

He was released a short time later and no further action was taken when she admitted that she had cut her own wrists and then made the allegations up.

The court then heard a recording of a conversation McKenna had with his former partner where she said she was going to tell the police he had stabbed her.

She admitted to making the claims and defence solicitor Charles Corbett said: “I suggest that the evidence the complainant has given has been changed to suit her own case.”

In the early hours of August 22 the couple got into a violent argument and McKenna called the police – who came to their flat and arrested Miss Skutela. She was given a caution and released.

They had another argument that evening and Miss Skutela called her mother to tell them that she was with McKenna and couldn’t contact her parents anymore.

Her father then received a text message telling them to come to the house.

They then called the police and headed over to the flat.

They arrived a few minutes before the police and found that McKenna had locked the gate to the flat’s courtyard with Miss Skutela inside. The police arrived a short time later and spoke to both couples.

McKenna admits to taunting Miss Skutela’s father, who lunged at him and was subsequently arrested. He spent the night in a police cell and was released without charge the following day.

As her family were preparing to leave, Miss Skutela became very upset and ran to her brother saying she couldn’t stay with McKenna anymore.

She left with her family and reported the assaults to the police a short time later.

McKenna was arrested and put on bail before he was charged with the offences on September 17.

He was also charged with stealing an X Box, DVDs and games, and for harassment of Miss Skutela – but magistrates dismissed these charges.

McKenna has been conditionally bailed and will be back in court to be sentenced next month.