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Gloucester man strangled girlfriend and attempted to flush her head down the toilet in violent attack

By EchoLauraC  |  Posted: May 06, 2014

Gloucester Crown Court

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Violent Gareth Toft, subjected his girlfriend to a terrifying attack when he strangled her four times, dragged her around the house by her hair and tried to flush her head down the toilet.

Jane Ritchie’s three children were playing in the garden as depressed Toft committed the assault following a row between the pair on April 16, this year.

Gloucester Crown Court heard 41-year-old Toft had been suffering from depression after he cheated on his wife with Ms Ritchie and moved into her Barnwood home.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said she had asked Toft to leave before he grabbed her arms and she spat in his face to get him off her.

But Toft, of no fixed abode, was not deterred and grabbed her around the throat and squeezed it, until she urged him to stop saying she could not breathe.

Ms Ritchie attempted to call the police, but the violence broke out again as Toft struggled to get her mobile phone from her.

Mrs Wood said she grabbed the home phone and barricaded herself in the bathroom, but Toft, pulled out the phone line and barged his way in.

She said he attempted to flush her head down the toilet before dragging her by the hair into the kitchen and continuing the attack, shouting ‘I am going to kill you’.

She said: “Only when the three boys came into the kitchen from the garden, did it stop.

“She told them to go and play again, but as they left he tried to strangle her again.

“He shouted abuse at the boys and their mother and left the address.

“She ran into the street to get help from the neighbours.”

Toft returned to her house the following day and was arrested by police.

Defending Tim Greaves said it was obviously a “very unpleasant incident”.

He said Toft, who suffers from diabetes, disputed trying to flush her head down the toilet and was upset and unwell at the time.

He added: “She was left with bruising and as unpleasant as it may have been, it is not the most serious of injuries.”

He said Toft’s wife of 22-years, Sharon, had written a letter on behalf of him, stating he was a good father and she had never seen any history of violence.

The court heard Toft, who had been off work sick, but on full pay since March, had no previous convictions.

Recorder Jonathan Barnes told him: “This was a truly terrifying incident. I accept you were under great stress, you were suffering from depression and that the way you behaved was wholly out of character.

“But that is no excuse. You carried out a very prolonged and frightening assault.

“She must have been absolutely terrified by what happened.

Toft, who has been in custody since April 19, was jailed for nine months, but had the prison term suspended for two years after pleading guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.

He was ordered to undergo 18 months supervision, pay £1,000 compensation, £240 costs and a victim surcharge.

Recorder Barnes added: ““She remains frightened of you and I hope, and believe, that with the assistance of the probation service you will come to a situation where you are no risk to a woman in the future.”

Toft was also given a restraining order to stay away from Ms Ritchie and her home for the next three years.

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  • tishwash  |  May 06 2014, 5:26PM

    9 months would of been bare minimal for what he deserves! As for then suspending it for 2 years because he pleaded guilty that's awful! He should be strung up!

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