A young woman from Cheltenham has been sent to jail for six years after ‘slicing open’ an off-duty paramedic’s face.
At the end of a trial that lasted four days, Emily Chew was unanimously convicted by a jury of assaulting Eoin O’Flarhartaigh with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm on 6th May 2017.
After hearing graphic evidence from two expert witnesses who, according to an article on GloucestershireLive.co.uk, disagreed about how a ‘great gaping wound’ was causing to Mr O’Flarhartiaghs’s face, the presiding judge told the court that he could not be certain that Chew, 23, had used a pocket knife as the prosecution had alleged
Forensic scientist Dr Deryk James told Gloucester Crown Court that he did not believe the injury was caused by a piece of pottery, as Chew had claimed as part of her defence.
During proceedings the judge, Recorder Edward Burgess QC, said: “I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt she used a knife, but I will sentence her on the basis that she picked up a sharp piece of ceramics and used that to inflict the grievous harm that she intended”.
The jury of seven women and five men heard that paramedic Mr O’Flarhartaigh, had been out socialising with his oppos in Cheltenham.
The court heard how he became detached from his group and continued to have a few drinks during the course of the evening.
During the early hours of the morning, he met Chew and the group of friends who she was with having never met them before.
At around 0640hrs the group went to a nearby McDonalds in order to grab a bite to eat before heading to a Nisa store where they purchased some more alcohol before heading to Ms Chew’s flat on Devonshire Street.
All witnesses agreed that the males drank heavily, but Chew, the lone female, maintained she was not much of a drinker and was sipping slowly.
She said that she was not drunk but tipsy.
She described the way the men were drinking as making her ‘cringe’.
At some stage the mood in her flat soured, the court heard.
Chew claimed that Mr O’Flarhartaigh kept coming over to her and touching her.
“I told him five times, ‘You need to stop touching me,’” she said in the evidence heard in court.
She claimed that the final straw came when he touched her ‘inner thigh.’
This was something that Mr O’Flarhartaigh disputed he ‘would never do’ although he accepted due to the alcohol and being assaulted his memory of events was ‘vague’ and limited to flashbacks.
It was established that Mr O’Flarhartaigh had left the flat – he said it was of his own accord after he had been punched, but witnesses claim he was forcibly ejected by the group.
He was then seen on CCTV standing on the corner of Devonshire Street and the High Street near Chew’s flat.
Mr O’Flarhartaigh said he was disorientated having been punched and owing to the alcohol which he had consumed combined with not knowing Cheltenham.
CCTV footage showed one of Chew’s friends ‘striding towards’ Mr O’Flarhartaigh and punching him.
Prosecutor Janine Wood told the jury that the group in Chew’s flat had taken umbrage that Mr O’Flarhartaigh would not leave the area and were throwing items from the flat window towards him such as eggs, plates and cups.
Mrs Wood said Chew then shouted from her window: “If you don’t f**k off now, Ill come down. I’ll f**king kill you.”
“She was described as raging,” Mrs Wood said, “throwing eggs, smashed china and other items.”
“Five minutes later she is seen striding towards him,” Mrs Wood said, “She then raises her right arm, has an item in her hand.
“She makes contact with his left cheek and strikes him.”
One of her party said they saw her return to the flat with a knife in her hand.
However, Chew maintained that she had picked up a piece of pottery from the floor to ‘harden’ her punch.
“I am not going to tell you falsely,” she said, “I took about three of four steps, I saw it, picked it up.
“I walked in a straight line. I remember it clear as day.
“It was right in front of me, It was in the road.
“I did not pick it up to use as a weapon,” she told the jury, “I thought in my head it might harden my punch.
“I went straight towards him and punched him this with this in my hand,” she said.
It is not known as to whether or not the item used to strike Mr O’Flarhartaigh was located and seized as evidence.
Mr O’Flarhartaigh suffered a severe injury to his face with a large scar still visible over a year later, running from his ear to his mouth on his left cheek.
In a victim impact statement the court heard how this injury had ‘a profound’ effect on him.
He said that it had made his work as a paramedic more difficult as ‘every second client asks me about it’.
He said that his elderly patients seemed to be ‘frightened’ of him and that he felt people made judgements about his character because of the large scar running across his face.
“People see my scar and think I am a troublemaker,” he said.
He also added that in his role as a paramedic, he often “attends drunk females, and I worry it could be her.
It makes me feel unsafe at work, and reluctant to go out.”
The judge ruled: “The reactions of others to him will persist. It is visible scarring on the face.”
Defence lawyer, Stephen Dent, told the judge that Chew had a troubled upbringing, suffering abuse.
This meant that she did not react well to people touching her, he said.
“The provocation was meaningful. She regarded that sort of touching very seriously in her adult life,” the barrister told the judge.
The judge observed: “There is absolutely no reason at all why she went downstairs to confront him as she did.
“He presented no threat to her whatsoever. She is angry because he hasn’t gone away, and throwing items at him has failed.”
Mr Dent said: “She expresses that she is devastated about what happened to Mr O’Flarhartaigh.”
“I have to balance that remorse against the fact that she had a trial,” the judge replied.
Imposing a six year jail term, the judge said to Chew, who had been crying since the verdict was announced: “I am not going to take very long over this because you are in a state of some distress.
“You were out of control. He posed absolutely no threat. What you did was terrible.
“I have seen the photograph of a great gaping wound across his face.
“It has had a profound effect on him,” the judge said, “it provokes questions based on a wholly false premise of his character.
“You are immature and have mental health issues,” the judge noted, “and the offence was over a year ago.
“But you did not have the courage to admit what you had done. You sought to take your chances, and you have been convicted rightly.
“I cannot be sure that you took a knife with you,” he ruled, “but you deliberately used the pottery to inflict a serious injury as you were in a rage with him.
“You are volatile and unpredictable.
“You showed this with this man,” the judge said adding, “He will pay the price for the rest of his life.
“You will pay the price now.”
The judges no-nonsense approach in sentencing Chew will be welcomed by many who sometimes feels that sentences which are handed down in these sort of cases tend not to reflect the severity of the assault.
Written by one of the many admins of Emergency Services Humour who is also a regular blogger in our fortnightly eMagazine ’S__ts & Giggles’ which you can sign up to by visiting our Facebook page and clicking on the ‘sign up’ button or by visiting: ShitsAndGiggles.Online
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