Woman choked in her own bed

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A WOMAN was beaten and choked by her boyfriend who had crept into her house as she slept.

Christopher Ganning, 26, used a key to get inside Vicki O’Brien’s home in the dead of night then attacked her as she lay in her bed.

During the horrifying incident, Miss O’Brien’s neck was squeezed so hard she was unable to call for help and she was pushed down the stairs and punched in the face.

Prosecutors accepted Ganning’s guilty plea to a charge of common assault, which carries a maximum of six months’ imprisonment, after Miss O’Brien failed to turn up at court on the day he was due to be tried.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Mr Recorder Jonathan Sandiford expressed “disquiet” at the fact prosecutors had not sought a witness summons, or used photographs of her black eye and bruises, to try him on the original charge of assault causing bodily harm, which carries a maximum of five years.

The judge said: “I just hope the defendant does not come back for something more serious in future.”

The court heard the couple, who are no longer together, had been out together to celebrate Ganning’s birthday on November 7 last year then had gone to their own homes.

It was the early hours of the next day Ganning, who has previous convictions for violence against women, used a key Miss O’Brien had previously given him to sneak into her house.

Prosecutor Barry Robson told the court: “She was awoken by the defendant and he grabbed her by the throat. She describes squeezing of her throat, breathing being difficult, she couldn’t shout for him to get off.

“She was punched in her right eye then got out of the bedroom.

“As she did that, she was pushed downstairs, causing her to bang her head on the stair wall.”

The court heard Miss O’Brien had an “extremely swollen” right eye and soreness to both arms but did not seek medical treatment.

Mr Robson said the lack of medical evidence in the case was what prevented the prosecution from pursuing the original, more serious charge against Ganning.

Mr Recorder Sandiford sentenced Ganning, of Shields Place, Hillside, Houghton, to a community order with supervision for two years and an order to complete a domestic violence programme.

The judge said because he was restricted to a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment, less discount for his guilty plea, it would be more beneficial in the long term if Ganning had input from professionals, rather than spend a few weeks behind bars then be released unsupervised.

He told Ganning: “If you had been convicted of assault causing bodily harm you would have been going to prison for a number of years.”

Bob Spragg, defending, said Ganning has stopped drinking and has shown genuine remorse.

Mr Spragg said: “Perhaps the seeds are there to show this time, if given the opportunity, he will take it.”

@Sunderland Echo