A Ramsgate thug who carried out a violent assault on his partner, leaving her with life-changing injuries, has had his prison sentence extended at the Court of Appeal,
Adam Fleming was jailed for an extended determinate sentence of 18 years with a custodial term of 14 years and an extended licence period of 4 years at Canterbury Crown Court last December. This has now been increased to 21 years with a custodial term of 17 years and 6 months.
But an appeal was brought by the Solicitor General to refer the sentence to appeal court as unduly lenient.
An ambulance was called to Old School Row on Monday 11 January and Adam Fleming told the 999 call handler that the woman was injured but the description of those injuries were downplayed.
When paramedics arrived they found the victim with a serious head injury and extreme bruising to her face. Firefighters also attended to ensure the woman was safely brought down the stairs and into the ambulance where she was then admitted to hospital. Her injuries were so severe that she was airlifted to a London hospital for further treatment.
Fleming, of Old School Row, was questioned by police and despite telling officers he just ‘found her like that’, he was arrested and taken into custody. He continued to deny any involvement, saying that he was in another room and heard ‘a thud’ and thought she had suffered a fit.
The victim had in fact suffered multiple breaks including facial fractures, a bleed on the brain and had to be put into an induced coma. Injuries included brain damage with internal bleeding; multiple facial fractures including the nasal bones and the left cheekbone; substantial facial bruising; corneal dislocation causing blindness in the left eye coupled with other traumatic injury to that eye; extensive bruising to the chest and abdomen; fractures of four ribs, three on the left and one on the right. There were old fractures of four ribs, the lower lumbar spine and the right cheek.
Fleming was charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and in September 2021 finally admitted to the charge.
The appeal court heard the victim was considerably older than the offender and an extremely vulnerable individual. She suffered from borderline personality disorder. She had learning difficulties. She was subject to more than one physical disability. Because of her vulnerability she had been allocated a social worker.
The relationship was volatile. Neighbours regularly heard screaming and shouting coming from their flat. Ms Webber often would be seen with bruises and black eyes. Her social worker had tried to safeguard Ms Webber by providing her with places of safety away from the offender.
Following the devastating attack and slow recovery, as of May 2021, the victim had significant communication and behavioural deficits which meant that she was wholly dependent on others to meet her needs. Her cognition was severely affected. She needed full nursing care to maintain continence, nutrition and hygiene.
By September 2021 she had made some progress. She then was able to feed herself with assistance. Her behavioural problems had improved and she was able to communicate with others to a limited degree. She remained doubly incontinent.
The court was told that the expectation in the longer term is that the woman will be able to live in sheltered accommodation. However, she will not be able to look after herself and will need close supervision. She will not be able to walk independently.
At the original sentencing the judge considered that the appropriate starting point for the custodial term before the effect of any mitigating factors and the appropriate credit for plea was 16 years. The judge reduced the custodial term to 14 years because the offender had not served a substantial term of custody before and had called for assistance once he had caused the injuries and to give credit of 10% for the late plea.
But the Solicitor General’s submission the appeal court said the judge’s assessment of the proper custodial term before consideration of mitigation and credit for plea was inadequate because it gave insufficient weight to the truly exceptional level of harm caused to the victim and there should have been a further uplift to reflect the aggravating factors: the offence occurred in a domestic context; the injuries were caused after a prolonged course of violent, controlling and coercive conduct and the offender had failed to adjust his behaviour despite what amounted to warnings from Ms Webber’s social worker.
The appeal court has agreed with the assessment and quashed the 14 year jail term, imposing a longer sentence of 17 years 6 months in custody.
The conclusion issued by the court says: “We quash the sentence imposed by the judge, namely an extended determinate sentence of 18 years with a custodial term of 14 years and an extended licence period of 4 years.
“We substitute an extended determinate sentence of 21 years 6 months with a custodial term of 17 years 6 months and an extended licence period of 4 years.
“The effect of the substituted sentence is that the offender will serve two thirds of the custodial term of 17 years 6 months before he is eligible for release. Whether he will be released at that point will be a matter for the Parole Board to decide, who will only release him if they consider it safe to do so.
“Whenever he is released, he will remain on licence for any remaining part of the custodial term and for a further 4 years thereafter.”
If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there’s an emergency that’s ongoing or life is in danger, call 999 now. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.
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