Monday, 16 December 2019

RAF officer ‘tried to kill partner after drunken row’

RAF officer ‘tried to kill partner after drunken row’

A ROYAL Air Force officer strangled his girlfriend until she was unconscious, a court heard.

Flight Lieutenant Timothy Barry, 31, attacked Sarah Seddon at the home they shared in Mill View, Cuxham, while her three-year son was in the next room.

In a 999 call, he told the operator: “I have tried to kill my girlfriend by strangulation.”

Barry is on trial at Oxford Crown Court where he denies a charge of attempted murder. He has already admitted the lesser charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard the attack happened in the early hours of January 14 last year.

The couple, who were both based at RAF Benson at the time, had been for a night out in Marlow but had a row.

Ms Seddon, 40, a squadron leader who had recently returned from a three-month tour of Afghanistan, threatened to leave Barry.

Jane Davies, prosecuting, said: “He placed both hands around her neck. He applied pressure and force to her neck area and he did so with sufficient force and for a sufficient length of time to render her unconscious.

“Fortunately, with the help and intervention of paramedics, Ms Seddon did not die, nor did she suffer any apparent lasting injury.

“She was treated in her unconscious state by the paramedics at the scene and she was taken in an ambulance to hospital.” Barry’s 18-minute 999 call was played to the jury. He was heard telling the operator: “She’s unconscious but she’s still breathing. I had a massive argument and one thing led to another.”

Barry could also be heard saying “come on, stay with me” and “I’m so sorry” repeatedly.

At one point he tells the operator: “Please get the ambulance here quickly.”

Ms Davies said Ms Seddon was found in an upstairs bedroom, fully clothed.

She said: “When the police officer arrested the defendant he interrupted the process of the arrest to say the words ‘attempted murder’ for the name of the offence for which he thought he was being arrested for.

“It would appear, members of the jury, that he thought his conduct warranted that offence.”

When the paramedics arrived, Ms Seddon was not responding to any voice commands or movement.

“She was not aware of anything going on around her,” said Ms Davies. “She had two noticeable red marks on her throat.

“It took several minutes to open her eyes. She was not able to respond further for 10 or 15 minutes.”

When she was finally able to speak her voice was “very raspy”. Ms Davies said: “The defendant estimated he had applied pressure to her neck for about a minute.”

Ms Seddon was taken by ambulance to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Ms Davies told the jury that when Barry was interviewed by the police he denied trying to kill her.

“He said he had used those words in the 999 call as he jumped to the worst possible conclusion,” she said.

“He said by strangling her he wanted her to see that the situation meant a lot to him and it was important to sort it out.

“The prosecution’s case is that in the moments immediately after he strangled her, in a brief window of genuine remorse, he was candid and contrite about what he had done.

“You may conclude that as time passed his initial remorse had started to shift towards self-preservation.”

In a written statement, taxi driver Andrew Pang said he had picked up the couple from Marlow at 11.30pm on January 13.

He said they appeared to be having an argument and Barry kept “leaning in” towards Ms Seddon.

Mr Pang said he wasn’t concerned about the argument as the couple were not screaming at each other but he said Barry was more aggressive than his average customer. He also noticed Ms Seddon staggering slightly when he dropped them off.

Helen Shackleton, the couple’s babysitter, said they  appeared drunk when they arrived home. She said there was bunting and balloons around the house saying “welcome home” as well as empty wine and champagne bottles.

The court heard that Barry had cut his arms and wrists before police arrived and officers discovered him “covered” in blood.

He had also taken some tablets and told the officers: “I just want to die.”

Darren Weston, who led the ambulance crew called to the house, said Ms Seddon did not respond to voice or touch when theyb arrived and gave her oxygen.

“I recall there being some markings around her neck,” he added.

Mr Weston said that, in his opinion, Barry had “realised the seriousness of the situation”.

He added: “We believed he had taken a series of tablets as a potential overdose following the call to us.”

A police officer gave first aid to Barry but he was taken to the hospital in a police car as his injuries were not life-threatening.

Lisa Wilding QC, for Barry, asked Mr Weston: “Aside from the mark that you observed on her neck, you found none of what I will call the classic signs of what you might be looking for for manual strangulation?”

He replied: “No. The only symptoms that we found consistent with strangulation were the marks on her neck.”

The trial continues.

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