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Woman 'feared for her life' in alleged throat grab attack, jury hears

Woman 'feared for her life' in alleged throat grab attack, jury hears

Monday 25 October 2021

Woman 'feared for her life' in alleged throat grab attack, jury hears


The trial of a 42-year-old accused of hitting a woman with a can of cider, pouring the contents over her, and then grabbing her by the neck while he “saw red” began in the Royal Court yesterday.

Scott Robert Harben denies a single charge of grave and criminal assault on 27 February this year at a flat in St. Brelade.

Although the jury will only judge on the alleged incident on that day, the prosecution argues that previous alleged examples of violence provide important background evidence.

The Crown’s case is that the alleged assault was one of a number in a history of verbal and physical violence going back almost nine years.

Simon-Thomas.jpg

Pictured: Crown Advocate Simon Thomas is presenting the prosecution‘s case.

Taking the stand as a witness on the opening day of the three-day trial and initially answering questions from Crown Advocate Simon Thomas, the woman recalled an alleged incident in 2012 in which Mr Harben began calling her names after the pair had been drinking.

“He was in my face shouting at me. I slapped him because I thought it would help the situation. It was not hard; it was a tap. I told him that if he didn’t stop, he should leave.

“After I slapped him, he laughed at me and continued to call me names. It started to become physical. He grabbed my hair and started throwing me about. 

“I felt like my head was on fire.”

The witness went on to detail several other alleged attacks between 2012 and 2021, including examples of strangling, being pushed into a door frame, Mr Harben putting his fingers down her throat, threatening to smash her television against a door frame, hitting her head with his forehead, throwing her phone against a wall and then flushing it down the toilet, and threatening her with two 12-inch kitchen knives. Mr Harben is not facing charges in relation to any of these allegations.

She said that Mr Harben was abusive when he became intoxicated, and that he would often use abuse to make her go away. 

Injuries over the years had included a black eye, a nosebleed, cut lip, and bruises and abrasions, she claimed.

advocate Adam Harrison

Pictured: Advocate Adam Harrison is defending Mr Harben.

Advocate Thomas said that the police had been called on several occasions but each time, the witness did not tell officers the full story or had withdrawn her statement.

She told the court that this is because she “didn’t want to get him into trouble”.

In November 2013, the police had issued a harassment notice against Mr Harben after the witness called them, the court was told, but it was just a warning and did not involve any subsequent investigation.

Describing the incident on 27 February this year - which is the single charge that the jury will decide on - the witness said that Mr Harben had “lost it” after she had told him to leave after he became verbally abusive.

She said that he then banged a can of cider on her head, poured the contents on her, held up a bottle of vodka as if to pour the spirit on her or strike her, and then grabbed her by the neck. 

While doing so, he put a finger down her throat, which she bit, she said.

“I was the tightest he had ever grabbed me,” she said. “I thought I was going to die. My life flashed before me that night.

“He had seen red and that was it.”

The witness called the emergency control room after locking herself in the bathroom. 

Before that, however, Mr Harben had said he was calling the police. However, he never made the call, despite having a pretend conversation as if he was speaking to an operator.

Under cross-examination from defence Advocate Adam Harrison, the witness denied Mr Harben’s assertion that she had been the instigator of the verbal and physical abuse.

The lawyer said that the witness’s accounts of violence were a fabrication and it was, in fact, the witness who had abused his client.

Referring to the incident on 27 February this year, Advocate Harrison put it to the witness that she had attacked Mr Harben and the pair had grappled. He also asserted that the witness had drunk more than she had said she had.

“Mr Harben pretended to call the police to stop you attacking him,” said the lawyer. “You were concerned that he had told the police that he was being attacked so you called them as you thought you’d better get your account in.”

This was denied by the witness.

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

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