South Shields thug stabbed woman in face with a fork after getting drunk at his grandfather's funeral

A brute who stabbed a woman in the face with a fork after getting drunk at his grandfather's wake has been jailed for more than five years.

Ryan Heslop, who has a history of violence and was on a suspended prison sentence, turned up at his victim's home in the early hours of the morning and launched the shocking attack.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 29-year-old shouted abuse and initially stabbed the woman's hand with the weapon, bent her fingers back and then thrust the weapon it into her face.

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While held in prison on remand over the attack, Heslop then made a series of phone calls to his victim, who was "leaned heavily and emotionally" to drop the charges against him and who did eventually withdraw her support for the prosecution.

Ryan Heslop.Ryan Heslop.
Ryan Heslop.

Despite her retraction statements, the case against Heslop, of Devonshire Street, South Shields, proceeded and he pleaded guilty to assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He also pleaded guilty to criminal damage in relation to a television at the victim's house.

Heslop had originally faced a more serious charge of wounding with intent, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, in relation to the violence, which was dropped.

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Prosecutor Alec Burns told the court Heslop's grandad's funeral was held in August last year.

Mr Burns said: "It was his grandfather's funeral and he got very drunk, frankly."

The court heard Heslop went to the woman's home at around 2am the following morning and woke her up.

Mr Burns said: "The defendant was shouting abuse at her.

"He was holding a fork and was stood next to her.

"Suddenly, he stabbed her in the hand and she screamed. He grabbed her, telling her it wasn't so bad, and then bent her fingers back.

"She was in pain and her hand was bleeding.

"Then, he stabbed her in the face with the fork."

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The court heard the victim, who had an injury to her face which was bleeding, was "concerned for herself" and, because her door was locked, told Heslop she would get him a drink from the fridge but climbed out of the window to safety.

Judge Stephen Earl jailed Heslop, who has 65 previous convictions and has been the subject of 33 police call outs over domestic incidents, to five years and two months behind bars.

Judge Earl said Heslop has been violent in the past and "there is every indication he may well be in future".

The judge said probation officials have assessed Heslop to pose a "significant risk".

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Judge Earl said the victim was "eventually worn down" by Heslop to withdraw her support for the prosecution and said his constant phone calls to her were "sufficient to wear anybody down".

The judge said the emotion involved on the day of the funeral did not justify what happened and added: "He is and was a very violent man, before and after the event."

John Wilkinson, defending, said the victim made is "absolutely clear" she did not want the court case against Heslop to proceed.

Mr Wilkinson said Heslop was in a state of "personal turmoil" at the time of the attack due to the death of his grandad, who had been like a "father figure" to him.

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Mr Wilkinson added: "The defendant turned to drink and drugs to try and blot out how he felt. He was using drink and drugs as an emotional crutch.

"He accepts, at the time, he was out of control."

Mr Wilkinson said Heslop has thrived while behind bars on remand and has a written record of personal achievements from his time in custody.