Gympie man with history of abuse jailed over strangling
A GYMPIE man whose criminal history included "wanton animal cruelty" was jailed in Gympie District Court on Friday for assaulting and strangling a woman in a domestic setting.
Judge Glen Cash made a connection between the two offences, telling the man the cruelty offence indicated difficulty controlling anger and was of a type which could be associated with the use of ice.
He said an absence of physical injury from the strangulation did not take away from the seriousness of the offence.
Andrew Gavin Hope, 29, pleaded guilty to strangulation in a domestic setting, assault with bodily harm and dangerous driving on December 5 last year.
His lawyer said Hope had been badly affected by the death of his child, in circumstances where the mother had authorised turning off life support before Hope could get to the hospital.
Judge Cash acknowledged members of Hope's family were present to support Hope in court, but said they could not live Hope's life for him.
"He's got to wake up to himself as well," the judge said.
Noting that a drug offence from last year involved marijuana, the judge said some of Hope's behaviour, including the cruelty matter, seemed to be "more suggestive of a person taking ice, which would be concerning.
"It obviously was a volatile relationship. You had been arguing, which led to wrestling.
"What you (then) did was take her around throat and squeeze her neck for 10 to 20 seconds.
"That is the offence of strangulation, which is a relatively recent offence but one which has been noted time and again to be considered very serious.
"Your argument continued and there's more wrestling."
The assault with bodily harm charge followed the woman punching Hope in the face.
Hope had responded with excessive force by holding her around the neck and head butting her on her forehead.
"While the complainant had done something to harm you, your reaction was excessive to the point where it was unlawful," he said.
"A bystander intervened and you drove away, but instead of leaving, you did a U-turn and drove back towards where she and her children were.
"I accept you didn't have in mind running them down but the result was the complainant had to move her children out of the way and your car passed within a metre of her as you drove from the scene.
"You must accept that what you did was grossly reckless and could have ended very badly for everybody involved.
"You should stop and pause for a moment (and think) how you would be feeling if as a result of your stupid driving, one of those children had been seriously harmed.
"Whatever your feelings were toward your former partner, that sort of thing is awful to contemplate."
The woman suffered "some soft tissue injury and abrasions.
"The most serious conviction you've got was back in 2015, when you engaged in an act of wanton cruelty directed toward a dog and then threatened people who sought to intervene in that.
"You don't have a substantial number of convictions but the conviction I've just mentioned suggests you are a person who has difficulty controlling your anger, at least on occasions.
"You seem to labour under some psychological difficulties.
"I also have regard to the significant impact on the victim and her children," he said.
Judge Cash said the offence lacked the four standard aggravating circumstances, which were whether it breached a Domestic Violence Order (there was no order in place), whether the perpetrator was someone whose record indicated a tendency to violence toward women (and this was not demonstrated), there was no loss of consciousness and the assault was not part of what would be called "protracted" violence.
"That means that while any offence of strangulation is serious, yours is not as serious as some others that come before the court," he said..
Acknowledging that immediate release on parole might assist with Hope's rehabilitation, he said the sentence also needed to include deterrence to Hope and others and denunciation of the offences, on behalf of a community which "won't tolerate violence toward women and driving in this manner."
He sentenced Hope to 18 months jail, with six months to be served before parole release on August 5.