Rugby man escapes being jailed after being given a chance to prove himself

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After his sentencing hearing had been delayed to allow him to care for his dying mother, a Rugby man was told that she would be proud of the way he had proved himself.

And despite Christopher Pritchard being subject to a suspended prison sentence at the time he assaulted his former partner, he escaped being jailed.

Pritchard, 49, of Cambridge Street, Rugby, had pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault and had been due to be dealt with in May.

On that occasion Recorder Andy Easteal said he had custody in mind, but deferred sentence to allow Pritchard to continue caring for his terminally ill mother.

But at the resumed hearing at Warwick Crown Court, he gave Pritchard a community sentence with 12 months supervision and ordered him to take part in a substance abuse programme and to do 60 hours of unpaid work and pay £340 costs.

Prosecutor Richard Franck had told the court Pritchard had remained friends with his former partner, and in April they were drinking together in a pub when they began to argue.

As she took out her phone to call the police, he went to grab it and pushed her against the wall, catching her in the face and causing her nose to bleed.

Mr Franck pointed out that at the time Pritchard was subject to a suspended prison sentence which had been imposed in August 2011 for an earlier assault on her.

On that occasion Pritchard, who also had previous convictions for battery and being drunk and disorderly, punched her several times in the face after they had been drinking.

Ian Speed, defending at the hearing in May, said that Pritchard was the main carer for his elderly mother who was terminally ill.

Recorder Easteal, said Pritchard was ‘on the precipice of going into custody,’ and told him: “We live in enlightened times where domestic violence is utterly deplored.”

But deferring sentence, he added: “You are fulfilling your responsibility to your mother with dedication, and I’m not going to deprive her of that care at this time.”

Nick Smith, defending at the resumed hearing, said: “He was grateful to be able to care for his mother in the time allowed. I can tell you that unfortunately she died in August.”

Mr Smith said that a report showed Pritchard ‘is doing very well’ and has given up alcohol and got a full-time job.

Sentencing Pritchard, Recorder Easteal told him: “Let’s be clear about this; what you did to your former partner was utterly unacceptable.

“You have a record for domestic violence, so you should have known better; but, drunk again, you lost your temper again and you became violent again.

“Given that you were subject to a suspended sentence at the time, it must have seemed inevitable to you that you were going to receive a custodial sentence.

“That is certainly what I had in mind when I read the file in this case, even given the progress you had shown under the suspended sentence. Even with that mitigation any your plea, in all likelihood I would have sent you to prison.

“But it was brought to my attention that your mother was terminally ill, and sadly she has now passed away.

“So I was persuaded, just, to give you an opportunity to prove yourself; and I must say you have taken it and grasped it with both hands.

“A few years ago you were a very successful man, and there is every opportunity for you to be that man again. You have a choice – you can go back to drink or you can seize the opportunity life has given you again.

“Your mother would have been ashamed to have seen you in court again on the last occasion; but she would be proud of you today. Don’t let her down, and don’t let the court down.”