Bru­tal at­tack on girl­friend

Woman suf­fered frac­tured spine

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS -

AM­BER WIL­SON

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.

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