Sheffield Crown Court: Sheffield mum subjected to 'shocking assault' and home invasion in child's presence
Judge Peter Kelson KC has described the four-and-a-half years it has taken for the case to reach Sheffield Crown Court as 'lamentable'.
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A trio involved in an incident in which a Sheffield woman was the victim of a home invasion while her child was present, before being subjected to a 'shocking attack,' have all walked away from court with suspended sentences.
Sheffield Crown Court was told how prior to the attack taking place, defendant Gavin Bottomley had accused the complainant - who was one of his neighbours - of being 'responsible' for him being robbed. The complainant denied having anything to do with the robbery, said Zaiban Alam, prosecuting.
Following this, Ms Alam said the complainant was at home with her child when she heard someone outside shouting her name and calling her a 's**g'.
The complainant recognised the voice as belonging to Gavin Bottomley, and when she looked outside could see he was there with his girlfriend, Kayley Walsh, and his sister, Chelsea Bottomley, the court heard.
Gavin Bottomley threw a brick at her window but it did not smash any glass, Ms Alam told a hearing on November 6, 2023.
Ms Alam said the complainant subsequently heard banging on the door, before Walsh burst through and proceeded to punch her 'three or four times' while she was on the floor.
The complainant managed to escape Walsh’s clutches and ran outside to try and ask a neighbour for help, the court heard.
Ms Alam said Walsh 'chased' after the complainant, and was soon joined by the other two defendants - Gavin and Chelsea Bottomley.
It was at this point that Chelsea Bottomley became involved with the assault and proceeded to kick her, while Gavin Bottomley attempted to 'hit her over the head' with a brick, but she was able to protect herself by 'covering her head,' Ms Alam told the court.
Gavin Bottomley could be heard 'encouraging' the other two defendants to inflict violence throughout the assault, the court heard.
Chelsea Bottomley proceeded to punch and kick the complainant while she was on the ground, and the assault came to an end after police arrived on the scene.
The three defendants were subsequently charged with, and pleaded guilty to the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The complainant was found to have sustained injuries including displaced fractures to her cheek bone and thumb, as well as bruising to her face, during the course of the attack.
Prior to outlining the facts of the case, Ms Alam asked Judge Peter Kelson KC if it would be possible to adjourn the sentencing hearing because the only statement from the victim was taken shortly after the incident took place in May 2019; but Judge Kelson said the 'lamentable' four-and-a-half years it has taken for a sentencing hearing to take place meant he did not feel it possible to delay matters any further.
Ms Alam read the complainant’s 2019 statement to the court, in which she said: "The incident has left me feeling scared and vulnerable in my own home. I can’t believe these people carried out the attack with children present…it’s disgraceful, I’m concerned about my safety."
Ms Alam also asked for Judge Kelson to grant a restraining order, prohibiting all three defendants from contacting the complainant.
Francis Edusei, defending Gavin Bottomley, aged 41, of Queen Street, Mosborough, said that while he acknowledged his client’s involvement in the 'deeply unpleasant offence,' which amounted to 'aiding and abetting,' it is now more than four years since it took place, and Gavin Bottomley has 'not been in any trouble whatsoever' in the intervening period.
Mr Edusei said all parties 'have moved on' since the attack was carried out, with the complainant moving away from the area, adding that Gavin Bottomley and Walsh, aged 36, also of Queen Street, Mosborough, now have a two-year-old child together.
Defending Walsh, Lydia Pearce, said that while Walsh was 'the most' active participant in the assault, she 'was not the one directing' it.
Responding to Ms Pearce’s line of mitigation, Judge Kelson replied: "I think forcing your way into someone’s house when there’s a child present puts you on a very bad footing…she’s the principal offender, by a long way."
Ms Pearce continued by referring to the 'significant delay' in the case, and said Walsh was now in 'stable employment'; and her two children would be detrimentally impacted if she were to be sent to prison, particularly if her partner, co-parent and co-defendant Gavin Bottomley was also jailed.
Katy Rafter, defending Chelsea Bottomley, aged 39, of Lister Avenue, Gleadless Townend, Sheffield said that her client had also managed to stay out of trouble over the last four-and-a-half years.
Ms Rafter continued: "She is genuinely very sorry for getting involved in this, she regrets getting involved every single day."
Ms Rafter continued by saying that while her client does not object to the application for a restraining order in principle, it may not be a practical measure because Chelsea Bottomley’s former partner, with whom she shares a child, is now in a relationship with the complainant.
Ms Rafter said Chelsea Bottomley has consequently had some contact with the complainant, but they have remained 'civil' for the good of the children.
Sentencing the three defendants, Judge Kelson said the delays in the 'ancient' case exposed some of the worst flaws in the criminal justice system, with the defendants only being 'pursued' for the matters in June 2022 - more than three years on from the incident.
He continued: "It seems absolutely clear to me that if you had come before the court within a normal time-frame then you would have gone to prison."
"This was a shocking assault, carried out after your intrusion into someone’s home, in the presence of a child at that time. But so much time has moved on, that it would be clearly wrong of me to send you to prison."
Judge Kelson said Walsh was the 'principal attacker' and her sentence would reflect that. She received a sentence of 12 months custody, suspended for 12 months.
Chelsea and Gavin Bottomley were sentenced to four and six months’ custody, respectively, both suspended for 12 months.