A Watford man who accused his pregnant girlfriend of sleeping with someone else to induce labour has avoided jail.
St Albans Crown Court heard how Shane Spearman, now 29, of Croxley View, Watford, had carried out numerous offences of coercive and controlling behaviour during an increasingly toxic relationship with the woman between November 2018 and May 2020.
This included threatening to punch her after she decorated her flat, refusing to allow her any credit on her mobile phone, trying to prevent her from seeing her family, insulting her appearance, grabbing her by the hair, throwing a child’s doll at her head, flicking a towel in her face, holding a knife to her throat and pushing her head into a wall when he discovered she had packed her bags.
He was found guilty of coercive and controlling behaviour and a second charge of possessing a bladed article, following a trial in August.
Prosecuting, Rob Bryan said the victim had suffered a fear of violence on many occasions, as Shearman had attempted to maximise her distress over a number of years.
But, in his defence, Simran Ghotra highlighted how Spearman had a complex mental health history, suffering from numerous conditions including ADHD, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, and had spent the past few years seeking support.
A letter from his GP said Spearman’s conditions would have been an “overwhelming and isolating experience” and praised his “courage and determination in the face of these adversities”.
Ms Ghotra said her client was a supportive father who spent time daily with his nan – who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia – and helped his granddad with shopping and gardening. She said he had made real progress over the past few years, including seeking help from MIND mental health charity, and had shown he can abstain from the behaviour evidenced during his relationship with Miss Tate.
Recorder Charles Bagot KC described Spearman as a better father than a boyfriend, someone who struggled with interpersonal relationships and found it easier to engage with children compared to adults.
He ordered him to serve 24 months imprisonment suspended for two years, adding: “You have been on a rehabilitation journey over the past three years. I hope you see this as a significant chance to turn your life around.”