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Barnstaple man assaults partner after abortion row

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

A YOUNG father whose partner had just had a termination assaulted his mother-in-law to be after she called him a "waster".

James Robert Hands, 22, of 25 Town Walk, Barnstaple, appeared at North Devon Magistrates' Court on Friday to be sentenced after being found guilty at a trial in September.

Lyndsey Baker, for the prosecution, said his partner had had a termination on June 15.

The following day her mother visited their flat and there was an argument between Hands and his partner's mum, Tina Howells. He assaulted her, leaving her with a black eye. Tim Hook, for the defence, told magistrates, "as you can appreciate, it was a difficult time for them all".

He explained how Hands and Mrs Howells had never had a good relationship. "Despite the sensitivity of the situation, his partner's mother started to question his lifestyle, calling him a waster at a time when he was feeling a sense of loss with his partner."

He said Hands and his partner remain on good terms and already had two young children together.

Presiding magistrate Susan Poxon told Hands she felt the case passed the custody threshold. She said: "There were threats to stab and children were present.

"We feel 10 weeks' custody would be appropriate. It was an emotional time but that doesn't give you the right to act as you did. It is clear you need help so we are going to suspend that sentence for 18 months and order you to attend probation meetings for 12 months."

Hands was also given a restraining order, barred from visiting Mrs Howells' address and ordered to pay £50 compensation and £100 costs.

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