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Man accused of assaulting woman tells jury he was the victim

Man accused of assaulting woman tells jury he was the victim

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Man accused of assaulting woman tells jury he was the victim

Wednesday 27 October 2021

A man accused of grabbing a woman by the throat has taken to the stand to deny a charge of grave and criminal assault, accusing his alleged victim of attacking him rather than the other way round.

Scott Robert Harben (42) is standing trial in the Royal Court this week. He has pleaded not guilty to a single charge, which is alleged to have happened on 27 February this year.

However, although the jury will only judge on this one incident, in which he is also accused of bashing a can against her and pouring its contents on her, the prosecution claims that there were other examples of abuse against the woman going back many years.

It has presented in detail through the evidence of police officers and the woman, who appeared as a witness in court on Monday.

On Tuesday, the second day of the trial, Mr Harben was questioned by his defence lawyer, Advocate Adam Harrison.

Referring to an alleged attack in December 2012, which the woman spoke about on the stand, Mr Harben said: “As the evening progressed, we were all intoxicated. We started arguing and became heated. 

“Out of nowhere she flew at me and I fell backwards on the bed. Because I was sitting facing her, I went backwards on the bed.

“She was grappling me, trying to scratch me and pulling my T-shirt. I spent the next couple of seconds trying to get away from her and off the bed.

“I wriggled my way out of it and I stood up off the bed, and that was the end of it.”

advocate Adam Harrison

Pictured: The defendant is being represented by Advocate Adam Harrison. 

Mr Harben added that he “had never been in a physical altercation with a girl."

Mr Harben said that the woman’s description of this and other incidents of his alleged abuse were false.

“If I’m being honest, I was on the receiving end of her attacks. Not vice versa,” he said.

Asked about one incident, when it is claimed he grabbed the woman's throat and then threatened her with two kitchen knives, he said: “That never occurred, ever. That incident is entirely made up. I have never acted like that.”

Mr Harben will continue to give evidence on Wednesday, including being cross-examined by prosecution lawyer Crown Advocate Simon Thomas.

Earlier on Tuesday, PC Jodie Botterill had given evidence. She attended the flat in St. Brelade following the woman’s phone call to the emergency control room on 27 February this year.

The officer said that the woman appeared to be crying and was shaking. She had wet hair and opened the door cautiously.

She added that it appeared to her that the woman had consumed alcohol but she did not consider her to be intoxicated.

PC Botterill also took photos of injuries which the woman said had been caused by Mr Harben.

She photographed red marks under the jawline and in the chest area. There was also a small bruise in the middle of the chest and scratch marks on the chest and around the jawline.

The officer also took down a witness statement from the woman. 

A section of footage taken by PC Botterill’s body-worn camera was presented to the jury, which showed her entering the flat with two male colleagues and the woman answering the door in a dressing gown.

Evidence from other police officers, who had visited the woman’s home on previous occasions - in 2012, 2013 and 2017 - after reports of attacks, was also presented to the jury. 

On these occasions, however, the woman did not want to take further action. The police did issue a harassment notice in December 2013 to stop Mr Harben contacting the woman, however, this was just a warning: it did not lead to any investigation and he was not interviewed at the time.

On another occasion, the woman gave a witness statement to police but later withdrew it.

The trial, which is being overseen by Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, continues.

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