Olympian Amanda seeks restraining order against man who threatened her and attacked her friend

RESTRAINING ORDER ... Amanda Lightfoot and her friend took out restraining orders against Mark Laidler, below.
RESTRAINING ORDER ... Amanda Lightfoot and her friend took out restraining orders against Mark Laidler, below.

OLYMPIC athlete Amanda Lightfoot is seeking a restraining order against a man who has admitted verbally assaulting her, a court was told.

Miss Lightfoot, who competed in the Winter Olympics in Russia earlier this year, became embroiled in a domestic flare-up between her friend, Hayley Clare, and her friend’s then-partner, Mark Laidler, on Tuesday, April 8, this year.

Mark Laidler

Mark Laidler

On the previous evening, power station worker Laidler had struck Miss Clare across the head and ear a number of times in the bedroom of the home they shared in Haughton Crescent, Jarrow.

The attack happened after Miss Clare had returned home from a night out in Newcastle.

After the incident she had retreated to a spare bedroom where she sent a text to Miss Lightfoot.

The following day the concerned biathlete arrived at her friend’s home to offer support.

But trouble flared again after Laidler, 36, kicked a table in his partner’s direction, hitting her right arm.

As Miss Lightfoot, from South Shields, attempted to calm the situation, Laidler shouted at her: “You’d better shut up or I’ll drag you out by the hair.”

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Laidler admitted two charges of assault by beating against Miss Clare and a common assault on Miss Lightfoot.

Janice Bellamy, prosecuting, requested restraining orders be made against Laidler forbidding him to contact his former partner and Miss Lightfoot.

She said: “Miss Lightfoot does a lot of jogging in this area and when she does so she is on her own.

“She has been put off by this incident and when she is running she feels vulnerable and does not want the defendant to contact her directly or indirectly.”

In her victim statement, Miss Lightfoot said: “When he told me he was going to drag me out by the hair I was terrified he was going to hit me.

“I was shocked at how the defendant was treating my friend and I was shaking but tried to stay calm because Hayley was so distressed.”

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “This relationship was in a nose-dive situation and the tension had been building up.

“My client accepts that he acted in a manner of which he is thoroughly ashamed.”

Miss Clare was treated in hospital after the attack for swelling and pain to her neck.

The case was adjourned until Thursday, August 28, for the preparation of pre-sentence reports.

Miss Lightfoot, 27, a former pupil at St Wilfrid’s RC School in South Shields, became the first British female athlete for eight years to compete in the gruelling biathlon event when she contested the 7.5km sprint in Russia.

The biathlon combines cross-country skiing with shooting – testing competitors’ mental and physical abilities under extreme pressure.

After the hearing, Miss Lightfoot said: “We’re really pleased he pleaded guilty in the end and he accepted what he did was wrong.

“Hopefully we can put an end to this all now and Hayley can start the next chapter of her life.”

Miss Clare said: “I am so glad this is all over and done with. I just feel I have wasted three years of my life with this person.

“The court proceedings have been awful, but I am glad I went through with it.

“I am upset by the way and which I have been treated by him, but I have wonderful friends and family and I just want to get on with my life now.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul