Northampton man jailed for years of violent and psychological abuse of ex-girlfriend who feared for her life
'I'm still struggling to pick myself together again'
A Northampton man has been jailed for violently abusing his former girlfriend for years, even after their relationship ended.
Kier Gray left his former partner fearing for her life through his campaign of physical, emotional and psychological abuse, Northampton Crown Court heard on Thursday (July 8).
The 32-year-old, of Brookland Road, was imprisoned for two years and three months and given a restraining order after being found guilty following a six-day trial.
The victim said in a statement partly read out in court: "I hope the court hears these words and realises the damage he has done. I'm still struggling to pick myself together again."
Gray was in a relationship with the woman from for four years, the court heard.
His Honour Judge David Herbert QC said the defendant repeatedly behaved in a controlling and coercive manner to her, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
He was repeatedly violent to her, including grabbing her throat and punching her, as well as threatening to kill her multiple times and on one occasion throw her out of a first floor balcony.
Once Gray smashed up her flat in anger and told her it was her fault as she had wound him up and not done what her told her to do, the judge said.
The victim became isolated from her friends as Gray made her push them away and when she did go out with them, he would contact them to find out where she was.
Eventually she moved to a relative's home 'to move on with her life and to remove the control and grip he had on her', Thomas Welshman, prosecuting, said.
But the defendant was still checking in on her and her friends with what she was doing, they added.
Judge Herbert told Gray: "She went to live with (a relative) but your behaviour did not alter.
"You tried to exercise control over her threatened to kill her on numerous occasions in text messages and on the phone."
Gray would monitor his ex's whereabouts by sitting in his car outside the home, with Judge Herbert remarking: "No wonder she felt trapped by your behaviour."
Once the defendant called her to find out where she was, she told him but he refused to believe her, saying he would 'smash her face in'.
He would also follow her around Northampton to see what she was doing, the judge added.
On September 21, 2019, Gray and another person followed the victim as she was driving with a friend.
The defendant wearing a balaclava smashed the car windows and dragged his former girlfriend out of the car by her hair while his accomplice assaulted the man she was with.
The victim said she thought she and her friend might be killed and it was most scared she has ever been in her life.
Judge Herbert told Gray: "It was a terrifying ordeal and made worse as it was you despite wearing a balaclava to disguise your behaviour.
"The next morning you sent her messages designed to upset her as much as possible, it's clear from that you have no remorse for your conduct towards her."
Afterwards, the victim said she became scared of her own shadow and extremely paranoid when speaking to her friends who she thought may talk to Gray.
She said she felt shut off and her confidence was completely shattered by the attack, which affected her job and gave her nightmares and she struggled to sleep.
The woman also developed an eating disorder, causing her to lose weight which completely changed her emotionally and her physical appearance.
Chantelle Stocks, defending, said Gray had matured since 2019 with no further offences or issues with the victim since then, plus he has a new partner and has set up a groundworks business.
The defendant has also reduced his alcohol and cocaine intake but not eradicated either, Ms Stocks added.
Judge Herbert sentenced Gray to 18 months in prison for one count of controlling and coercive behaviour, nine months consecutively for one count of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment and two month concurrently for criminal damage.
He told the defendant: "Your behavior left her isolated and withdrawn and her confidence was eroded. Her move got her some independence but you continued attempts to control her and limited that recovery.
"The friend incident left her being terrified of you and what might happen next, she describes herself as a nervous wreck and she developed an eating disorder that lasted a year.
"Your conduct towards the victim was persistent and over a long period of time using different means to maximise the fear of violence."