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Man attacked his fiancée on a boat in argument about coronavirus

A MAN who violently lashed out at his fiancée during a row about coronavirus while self-isolating has been jailed.

Matthew Childs was also banned from entering the county of Oxfordshire this week for assaulting his then-girlfriend onboard her boat near Oxford.

The sentence comes after growing national warnings about the increased risk of domestic abuse while couples are stuck together in lockdown.

Read also: Live updates on coronavirus

Childs, 49, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court facing the single count of assault on Wednesday.

Despite originally pleading not guilty to the attack, in a last-minute turnaround he had a change of heart and pleaded guilty at the hearing.

Outlining the case, prosecutor Charlotte Webster said the incident took place on Thursday, April 2, while Childs was staying with his partner on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ river boat.

Oxford Mail:

She described how they were moored up at Enslow wharf on the River Cherwell, north of Oxford, when the conversation turned to the news and specifically the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An argument then broke out, she said, ‘about an item on the news relating to coronavirus.’

The prosecutor said that during the row the woman’s face was ‘pressed down and struck against the side of the kitchen table’ leading to an injury.

The court heard that she was ‘in shock’ at the attack and ‘didn’t know what was going on.’

Read also: Drunk spat at officer and said he had coronavirus after being caught stealing alcohol

Representing himself at court, Childs, who is now living at Long Croft Road, Devizes, said he had ‘pushed past’ the woman and had not intended to cause her any injury.

Explaining the build-up to the argument, he said that he had been living in Spain working as a chef before the coronavirus outbreak.

He said when the Canary Islands went into lockdown in March he stayed for two weeks and said he was ‘under a considerable amount of stress’ at that time.

Oxford Mail:

When he returned to the UK he went to his fiancée’s boat where they began to self-isolate.

Detailing the night of the attack he said: “That evening we had a few drinks.

“I had personally witnessed firsthand in Spain [the lockdown], I knew what was coming to the UK and how bad it was going to get. We started arguing.

“I pushed past. I am not disputing that she hit her head – she has a cut in her eyebrow.”

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Childs added that he was ‘sorry’ for the assault and said: “Emotions were running high, things were heated.”

He said: “I am very keen to put the whole matter behind me and I wish to apologise for wasting the court’s time and not pleading guilty on the first occasion.”

It was also revealed at the hearing that Child’s fiancée wanted nothing more to do with her ex-partner.

Oxford Mail:

Sentencing, District Judge Kamlesh Rana said only an immediate jail term could be imposed for the violence.

She told him: “I give you credit for your guilty plea.

“You accepted assaulting this lady – the difference between yours and the prosecution’s version isn’t going to make a material difference.

“I view this to be so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

Read also: Latest court results for Oxfordshire

He was jailed for 20 days and must pay compensation to his victim of £150.

The Judge also gave Childs a two-year restraining order and banned him from coming into the county of Oxfordshire for any reason during that time.

Oxford Mail:

Thames Valley Police chief constable John Campbell said recently that the force was bracing for a rise in the number of domestic abuse calls during lockdown.

Also speaking of the expected rise in violent offences in the home Detective Rebecca Mears, the force’s head of public protection, said this week: “The four walls of the home should be safe, but this is not the case for victims.

“Domestic abuse can be all sorts of things from physiological abuse, coercive control – which is belittling people, financial control so they have no assets and no money, social control and then the more recognised sexual and physical violence.”

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