South Tyneside man narrowly escaped jail for attacking his ex and her son while one-year-old was in next room

A jobless South Tyneside assembly worker has narrowly escaped being jailed for attacking his ex-partner and her son while her one-year-old grandchild was in the next room.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 12:15 pm

Martin Forster, 54, of Helmsley Road, South Shields, was warned to change his behaviour or risk a spell behind bars after being handed a 26-week suspended sentence.

District judge Kathryn Meek told him he should be ashamed of his behaviour and stop blaming others for his violence.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, she heard he was subject to a restraining order against Leah Gibson when he assaulted her at her home in Ulswater Avenue, Primrose, Jarrow, on Wednesday, November 27.

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Martin Forster, 54, of Helmsley Road, South Shields, was warned to change his behaviour or risk a spell behind bars after being handed a 26-week suspended sentence.

They had started to rekindle their four-and-a-half-year relationship and Ms Gibson had taken him in because he had nowhere else to go.

Prosecutor Clare Irving said Ms Gibson had gone to Jarrow town centre at 4.45pm to collect her grandson, leading Forster to ask her son Aaron Arcus where she was.

On her return, Mrs Irving said Ms Gibson repeatedly asked Forster to leave, leading Mr Arcus to remove himself and her grandson from the room because of the argument that was starting.

Mrs Irving added: “He grabbed her around the neck with both hands, squeezed and pushed her back. Her son comes into the room to see what’s going on.

“He moved the son out of the room. He tried to stop the son from getting into the room and closed the door.”

Mrs Irving said Forster left the property but returned five minutes later, using his own key to let himself in.

She said Forster tried to shake Mr Arcus’ hand which was rejected, adding: “He grabs him and punches him on the back of the head several times.

“The son fell back onto the sofa and Ms Gibson falls on top of her son, trying to protect him. The defendant is still punching him.

“She is shouting ‘please stop’. He clenches his fist which collides with her jaw. He then leaves the house.”

Ms Gibson and Mr Arcus attended hospital for minor injuries but left without receiving treatment, the court was told.

In statements to the court, Ms Gibson said she feared repercussions from Forster, and Mr Arcus said he was shocked at the attack due to his son being at the property.

David Forrester, defending, said Forster, who pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by beating and breaching a restraining order, had not deliberately punched Ms Gibson but had done so while trying to attack Mr Arcus.

District judge Meek told Forster: “It’s a blessed relief that no-one had more serious injuries that they do.

“If anybody needs some rehabilitation work about how to conduct their domestic relationships, it’s you. You should be ashamed of yourself, I hope you are.”

She sentenced Forster to 26 weeks’ imprisonment for breaching a restraining order and 26 weeks each for the assaults, to run concurrently and suspended for 18 months.

He was ordered to undergo 20 days’ rehabilitation work with the Probation Service, 30 sessions on the Building Better Relationships programme and do 150 hours of unpaid work.

Forster was also given a five-year restraining order to stay away from his former partner and not to enter Ulswater Avenue.

He must also pay his two victims £200 each in compensation and a £121 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.