Brutal attack on girlfriend
Woman suffered fractured spine
A DEVONPORT man who fractured his girlfriend’s spine in a “brutal” attack while their daughter cried nearby may spend only eight months in jail for the assault.
Joel Lawrence Upton, 30, was found guilty by a jury of assaulting his lover in June 2018, putting her in hospital.
Upton had been involved in a minor traffic accident that morning and was angry, blaming his partner for his lack of concentration.
As soon as they entered their home, Upton dragged the woman over a baby gate in the doorway, causing her to fall, then punched her three times in the lower back.
He kicked her left leg then threw her to the ground again.
The couple’s three-year-old daughter woke from sleeping and started crying during the assault.
The woman attended the Launceston General Hospital about two weeks after the attack, complaining of back pain radiating into her right leg.
Radiology confirmed she had fractures in the thoracic and lumbar areas of her spine —– injuries that were consistent with being thrown to the ground and a direct blow.
However, evidence showed the woman had pre-existing injuries in her thoracic spine, but not the lumbar area.
In sentencing on Tuesday, Supreme Court of Tasmania Justice Michael Brett said Upton’s attack caused a significant aggravation of the woman’s prior injury and also freshly injured her lumbar spine.
He said Upton’s knowledge that the woman already had a back injury aggravated his moral culpability by directing his assault toward that area of her body. “I regard this crime as a serious example of family violence. You inflicted a brutal assault on your partner,” Justice Brett said.
The couple has since reunited and they are expecting another child.
Justice Brett activated a four-month suspended sentence Upton previously received for disqualified driving, obstructing a police officer and failing to appear in court — adding he would not be eligible for parole until he’d served two months in jail. He also sentenced him to 16 months’ jail for assaulting his partner. He will be eligible for parole after eight months.