A former soldier with the Army Reserves who saw active service in both Afghanistan and Iraq subjected his partner to months of bullying and abusive behaviour, a court has heard.
Matthew Owen Selby’s behaviour included threatening the woman with weapons, threatening to shoot her dog, driving a car at her, and humiliating her by dumping her possessions on the street.
Swansea Crown Court heard Selby is now ashamed of his behaviour and acknowledges he needs help.
Ian Wright, prosecuting, said the relationship between Selby and his partner was initially a good one but that over time matters began to deteriorate.
The court heard the defendant became more domineering and aggressive towards his victim, a situation exacerbated by his abuse of alcohol and cocaine. The pressures of the coronavirus lockdown earlier in the year also made matters worse.
The prosecutor outlined a number of specific incidents of Selby’s behaviour, including arming himself with a machete and threatening to stab his then-partner, putting her car up on inspection ramps so she could not drive it, threatening to murder her, threatening to kill her dog – an animal she was particularly attached to – driving at her and skidding to a halt in front of her, and driving erratically when she was in the car and repeatedly slamming the brakes on.
The court heard that on one occasion the 35-year-old grabbed an air rifle and said he was going to shoot the dog – the woman was so concerned he was serious she stood in front of the animal as a shield.
On another occasion he put his face up against hers and told her « If you were a bloke I’d batter the sh*t out of you », while on another occasion when the woman packed her bags to leave him he dumped her possessions onto the street.
Mr Wright said Selby also assaulted his victim’s brother after she confided in him, grabbing the man by the throat at a party and squeezing until he was dragged away by others present at the house.
Selby, of Ty’n yr Heol Road, Bryncoch, Neath, had previously pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour, and to one count of assault – the attack on his partner’s brother – when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
Robin Rouch, for Selby, said the defendant was genuinely remorseful for his behaviour and bitterly regretted what he had done.
He said it was clear from the references from those worked with and those he had served alongside in the Army Reserve that people thought very highly of him, but he acknowledged there was another side to Selby, one that was quick to anger – a problem made worse by the use of « intoxicants ».
The barrister said the defendant had served for seven months Afghanistan and six months in Iraq with the reserves, and there was a possibility he was suffering with post traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Rouch invited the court to follow the recommendations of a pre-sentence report and allow the Probation Service to work with the defendant to tackle his problems, saying such a course of action would benefit not just his client but also future parnters.
Recorder Lucy Crowther told Selby his behaviour towards his now former partner had been « cowardly and bullying », and much of what he had done had been calculated to humiliate and degrade the woman.
She said his behaviour had been aggravated by is use of cocaine and alcohol, and that the coronavirus lockdown had worsened his anxiety.
She said she had carefully read a number of references written to the court on behalf of the defendant – including one setting out in detail the horrors of what he had experienced on duty – and also read a pre-sentence report which made it clear there were concerns about his mental health, and the a « real and pressing need » to address the risk he poses to others.
The judge said it was clear Selby now recognised the need for help, and had the support of family and friends, and she was able to suspend the term of imprisonment that was due.
Giving the defendant a 25% discount for his guilty pleas she sentenced him to a total of 21 months in prison suspended for two years, ordered him to complete a building better relationships course and a rehabilitation programme, and made him subject to a nightly curfew for the next three months. Selby was also made the subject of a restraining order banning him from contacting his former partner for the next five years.
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