Mum-to-be spared jail after throwing glass in man's face during engagement party row
A mum-to-be has narrowly avoided giving birth behind bars after leaving a man scarred for life in an engagement party glass attack.
Gemma Spencer threw a pint she was holding when trouble flared outside the venue and it hit the man, who had been acting as peacemaker, in the face and caused him to bleed heavily.
Newcastle Crown Court heard he suffered two wounds, one to his forehead and one to his lower eyelid and cheek in the 2019 attack, that required a total of 38 stitches and may require future surgeries.
Spencer, 27, who is now more than eight months pregnant, faced up to five years behind bars but has had her jail term suspended so she does not have to give birth and look after a newborn in "harsh" conditions during the pandemic.
In a victim statement he read to the court himself, her victim said his life has been devastated by the "vile" attack.
He said he had struggled in previous years with a childhood dog bite scar on his face and had undergone treatment, which was successful.
He said: "I underwent quite a lot of different treatments to my face which left me feeling the happiest I have ever felt and I finally accepted who I was and what I looked like.
"Then this attack happened.
"This attack has made me feel the worst I think anyone could ever feel. If I felt any lower I don't think I would be here today."The man said he suffered flashbacks to the attack, wore a cap and glasses to go out of the house and was left "embarrassed about who I am and what I look like".
He added: "In my eyes, changing someone's face forever, for no reason whatsoever, is one of the worst things someone can do to another person."
The court heard the attack happened outside of The Houghton Comrades Club in November 2019, where there had been an engagement party.
Prosecutor Jolyon Perks said the victim was not involved as a "trouble maker" and had been steering other people away.
Mr Perks said: "He turned to talk to someone and was hit in the face by a glass".
The court heard Spencer was asked by her boyfriend afterwards "what the **** did you do that for" and she replied "I don't know".
Spencer, of Beadnell Drive, Seaham, admitted unlawful wounding on the basis she had been struck in the face before she threw the glass recklessly.
Judge Sarah Mallett sentenced Spencer to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 20 months, with rehabilitation requirements and an order to pay £2,500 compensation.
Judge Mallett said the victim was "acting as peacemaker at all times" during the trouble and said it was "incredibly fortunate none of that glass has affected his eyesight".
Judge Mallett said the jail environment is "particularly challenging" during the pandemic and the prison population must be kept as low as possible to protect those who live and work there.
The judge warned Spencer she had come "very, very close to immediate custody" but added: "A custodial sentence to be served immediately would result in a heavily pregnant woman giving birth and raising a newborn, vulnerable baby in those particularly harsh circumstances."
Tony Davis, defending, said Spencer, who has never been in trouble before, acted recklessly and she herself had been subjected to violence during the disorder.