Wife beater sentenced for “extremely upsetting” attack

A father of three has been given a suspended sentence today after pleading guilty to smashing his way into the family home and strangling his wife in front of their children.

Paul Coombs, 34, of Cluny Way, Arlesey was given a suspended four month sentence, a six month restraining order and ordered to pay costs at Stevenage Magistrates Court today (Wednesday) after the bench heard evidence of what it called a “sustained and extremely upsetting attack”.

While he wept in the dock, the court heard how on November 24, Coombs returned to the family home in Lammas Mead, Hitchin, after going out to play poker, to find it locked by his wife of 12 years, Anne-Marie.

When she refused to let him in, he smashed a brick through the back door window and forced his way into the house.

At the sound of breaking glass Mrs Coombs, who in a statement said her husband had a history of abuse towards her, took her phone into the bathroom and locked herself in to call the police. While she was talking to an officer, the defendant smashed through the bathroom door and grabbed her by the throat.

Despite her screams for him to stop, he forced her up against the wall and continued to strangle her while their two girls, aged nine and 10 watched in horror. Their third child, a six-year-old son was asleep in bed.

After momentarily letting go of his wife, Coombs continued to shout, demanding to know if she had called the police. The attack lasted for 15 minutes until police arrived and Mrs Coombs was able to leave the bathroom and answer the door.

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The prosecution said at this point the defendant calmed down and was acting as if nothing had happened. He was arrested and later made a full confession.

In mitigation, Coombs’ defence lawyer, who described the defendant as an entertainer by profession, said the abusive actions had begun five or six years ago, when a gambling addiction had spiralled out of control.

He said Coombs had turned to gambling while travelling away from home, creating financial difficulties which he had tried to fix by gambling more.

He added that Coombs had shown significant remorse for his crimes.

In sentencing the magistrate chairman said a custodial sentence would not do anyone any good, but took into consideration Coombs “contemptuous and selfish” actions towards his wife and children which had had a lasting emotional effect on them.

As well as adhering to the conditions of his sentence, Coombs must attend a domestic abuse programme.