Party attack couple jailed
A husband and wife who launched a vicious attack on a woman after an engagement party have been each been jailed for three years.
Dorothy Matthews, 60, suffered fractures to her breastbone, vertebrae and neck in the assault by Maria and Greg Toole.
Mother of six Maria Toole, 33, pulled the victim out of a taxi and repeatedly struck her. She was then kicked and stamped on by self-employed builder Greg Toole.
A judge told the couple, whose youngest child is just 15 weeks: “This was a most unpleasant attack on a woman older than you. Dorothy Matthews sustained serious injuries.”
The trouble started after Miss Matthews and her group took some sandwiches to eat in the taxi on the way home.
There was no objection to this but they were told not to take the plastic trays, a jury was told.
Miss Matthews was sitting in the cab at the Snodland Working Men’s Club when Maria Toole pulled her out.
The victim graphically told in evidence of hearing her bones cracking as she lay on the ground curled up in a ball as she was attacked.
“I was in agony,” she said. “I thought I would die on that spot. I couldn’t see how it would ever end.”
The couple, of Saltings Road, Snodland, denied inflicting grievous bodily harm, but were convicted on what the judge called compelling evidence.
Miss Matthews worked at Express Cabs in Maidstone with her daughter-in-law Chelsea Farinaro.
They, Miss Matthews’ daughter Somma Mockford and others went to the engagement party of Lois Love, who also works at the firm, and Phil Underdown at the club in Ham Hill in February 2017.
Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said at about 11.30pm, when preparing to leave, Chelsea collected some food from the buffet to eat on the way home.
Mr Underdown’s mother Theresa Booth stopped her, saying she should not take the trays. They were handed over.
But a cigarette was thrown in Miss Matthews’ direction and Maria Toole became abusive before pulling Miss Matthews out of the taxi onto the ground.
“She hit Dorothy Matthews repeatedly and she heard Greg Toole say words along the lines of ‘Start on my wife’ and he kicked her to the upper body several times,” said Mr Morgan.
“As he did that she felt pain throughout her chest and neck and heard a cracking sound. She heard another crack and saw Greg Toole was stamping on her.”
Miss Matthews’ three grandchildren were distressed as they sat in the taxi.
She managed to get in and it drove away. She was taken to hospital and kept in for two weeks.
Greg Toole, 33, claimed he acted in self-defence. Mrs Toole denied any involvement in the assault.
Miss Matthews said her life had changed radically since the attack.
The court heard Greg Toole had previous convictions for assault and possessing cocaine several years ago. His wife was of previous good character.
Caroline Harris, for Maria Toole, said prison meant there would be a huge impact on the couple’s children, three of whom were under school age.
Judge Adele Williams called the argument over the sandwich trays “senseless.”
She added: “This was a joint attack and each of you is equally culpable and responsible.
“The victim found this a deeply traumatic experience and has ongoing problems. It affects her psychologically and she fears for the future.
“You, Maria Toole, were on this occasion completely out of control. “You started the violence. CCTV shows how you ran after witnesses and at the end of the incident had to be pulled away and prevented from returning to continue the attack.”
“This falls into the most serious category.”
Maria and Greg Toole arriving at Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing. The pair denied attacking a party-goer but were convicted and sentenced to a prison term. Right: Pictured after their arrest
The Working Men’s Club in Snodland’s Ham Hill