Denies choking pregnant girlfriend

A 30-years-old Derry man has denied strangling his heavily pregnant girlfriend during an altercation at their home on Saturday.

Gerard Scarlett of Fergleen Mews appeared in court yesterday morning to face charges of choking or strangling his partner. He faces three further charges of causing criminal damage; one charge of disorderly behaviour and one of assault.

However, during a bail application hearing the court heard that while Scarlett admitted he had a “heated verbal altercation” with his partner, who is seven months pregnant, he “had not touched anyone.”

The court heard that the alleged injured party had also told police that her partner had not choked her, but that vivid red marks around her neck were the result of a pregnancy related condition - spider veins.

The choking allegations came after police were called to the property on Saturday by a neighbour.

The court was told that the couple’s neighbour had called police after the alleged injured party’s 13-years-old daughter had come to her home in a highly distressed state, telling her that Scarlett was strangling her mother.

When police arrived at the property Scarlett was intoxicated and agitated and they observed the alleged injured party had vivid red marks on her neck, which looked to be in the shape of finger marks. However, the woman refused medical attention and told police the marks were as a result of spider veins.

It later transpired that the teenage girl had not witnessed the alleged assault herself, but had been told by a person who had been in the room that it had taken place.

A police officer told the court that both police and Social Services were objecting to a bail application from Scarlett as they believed he was “highly likely to reoffend” and had a significant record for violent assault - although it was conceded his record was not for violence in a domestic setting towards his current partner.

Requesting that Scarlett be released on bail, defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, said the injured party had told police they could speak with her doctor to confirm her medical condition.

He said that police had yet to speak to the witnesses who had told the woman’s daughter her mother was being strangled.

District Judge, Barney McElholm, said he was unable to rule on whether or not to release Scarlett until all witnesses in the room at the time of the alleged attack had been spoken to.

He said: “I don’t believe it would be feasible that he would leave them (the alleged injured party and witnesses) alone. This man has a considerable record of 207 offences. I have been dealing with him for as long as I have been here.”

The case was adjourned until Thursday.