LOCKED UP

Party at­tack cou­ple jailed

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - by Keith Hunt Khunt@thek­m­group.co.uk @KM_news­room

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.”

Pic­ture credit: Chris Davey/Kent Po­lice

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

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