Jail for thug who slashed girlfriend's face and hit her with hammer in row over broken keyring

A violent boyfriend who slashed his girlfriend's face open during a row over a broken keyring has been put behind bars.

Marc Harbison, 29, had already knocked Nicola Walker unconscious with a punch and hit her leg with a hammer when he started lashing out with a Stanley knife.

The frightened victim suffered a cut to her neck from the blade and a slash down the full length of her cheek which needed more than 20 stitches.

She has been left scarred for life.

Newcastle Crown Court heard trouble started when the couple got back to their home in Washington after a drunken night out last April, and realised Miss Walker had accidentally broken a keyring containing a picture of them.


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Prosecutor Jonathan Devlin told the court: "The defendant said that was the first picture of them together and she had smashed it. He punched her and she believes that caused her to lose consciousness."

The court heard Miss Walker may have suffered a fit while she was knocked out, yet Harbison continued the row when she came round, and hit her on the thigh with a hammer.

Harbison then picked up the Stanley knife and started "waving it about in a slashing motion", which caused a cut to Miss Walker's neck.

Mr Devlin added: "As she tried to move away he kept on slashing towards her. This time, the knife connected with her left cheek."


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The court heard Harbison tried to help Miss Walker when he realised the seriousness of what he had done, but convinced her to initially cover up his involvement.

His mother Valerie Gardner became involved and sent Miss Walker a series of texts asking her not to pursue a complaint, and used "emotional blackmail" to try to ensure Harbison could keep his freedom.

When Miss Walker bravely revealed to the police what had happened to her, Harbison, of Ashfield, Jarrow, was arrested and later admitted unlawful wounding.

He also admitted that a batch of heroin found at his home and a quantity of the drug stashed inside a Kinder egg, which he had hidden between his buttocks at the police station, would have been sold on the streets.


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Harbison, who has previous convictions for violence and drugs, also pleaded guilty to possession of the class A drug with intent to supply.

Judge Penny Moreland jailed him for six years, and branded him "possessive, controlling, abusive and violent."

The judge told him: "You caused a serious laceration from the top of her left cheek to the corner of her mouth, which was to require a large number of stitches.

"She will be scarred for life as a result of what you have done."


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Miss Walker said in a victim impact statement she feels finally free from the control Harbison had over her, but fears what will happen when he is back on the streets.

She said: "I am worried what will happen when he gets released, that he will come back to my home and never leave me alone."

Harbison has been banned from any further contact with Miss Walker, with a lifelong restraining order.

Gardner, 49, also of Ashfield, Jarrow, admitted perverting the course of justice.


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She was sentenced to five months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours' unpaid work and £1,200 costs.

Judge Moreland told her: "Through a series of text messages and Whatsapp messages you put pressure on Miss Walker not to pursue her complaint against your son.

"When you engaged in that exchange, I am satisfied you knew he had slashed her face with a Stanley knife.

"You must have known how afraid she would be as a result. You subjected her to emotional blackmail."


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Graeme Cook, defending Harbison, said he feels genuine remorse for what he did to a woman he loved, and regrets dragging his mother into the situation.

Shaun Routledge, defending Gardner, said the care worker had no previous convictions, a strong bond with her family and had acted through "misplaced loyalty".