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Dangerous domestic abuser from Welwyn Garden City jailed

28 Jul 2021
  • A Welwyn Garden City man has been jailed for 8.5 years for GBH and coercive and controlling behaviour.

  • He will also serve an extended licence.

  • If you need help, call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 08.

A ‘dangerous’ man who tried to kill his former partner was sentenced to eight and a half years’ imprisonment for GBH and controlling and coercive behaviour at St Albans Crown Court today (Wednesday 28 July).

Darryl Harding, age 53, of Little Hardings in Welwyn Garden City, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for S18 GBH and an additional 18 months for controlling and coercive behaviour. He was also given six months for an attempt to escape from custody, which is to run concurrently. His former partner will be protected by an indefinite restraining order. He will also serve an extended licence of four years on top of the 8.5 years.

The court heard that his former partner, aged in her 40s, had been subjected to ongoing physical, emotional and psychological abuse by Harding over an eight year period, which left her wanting to end her own life.

Detective Constable Erik Gale from the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit said: “This is one of the worst cases of domestic abuse I have ever seen. She thought Harding would actually kill her and after he stabbed her and then himself in January this year, he told her that they were both going to die that night. But it wasn’t just the physical abuse she endured, he also controlled her every move and he also used gaslighting tactics so she became a shadow of her former self.”

Judge Stephen Warner said the victim’s impact statement “made for sobering reading.” He described Harding’s behaviour as “erratic during the relationship and erratic during the trial…He had no admission of guilt, forcing the victim to give evidence and showed no remorse, even when faced with the evidence.” On passing down the sentence, Judge Warner said: “He poses a risk to the public and I consider him dangerous.”

The court heard about a number of incidents where Harding had lost his temper and smashed TVs, mirrors and punched holes in walls before turning his hand on his former partner. He smashed her phone to deny her any contact with her friends and family so he could control her. In one incident, Harding set fire to her kitchen curtains and threw two pet turtles from a tank into the garden where they died.

Despite feeling scared, she contacted police in April 2020 and Harding was remanded in prison at the end of 2020.

Despite his bail conditions not to contact her after he was released, they met up at a pub in Welwyn Garden City where he continued to emotionally and psychologically abuse her before trying to strangle her in a hotel.

But in January this year, he stabbed her in the neck and wrist before stabbing himself in the neck, while telling her they would both die.

He was treated in hospital while in police custody and was due to be taken to a police station on discharge, but he escaped officers before being detained and was arrested a short time later.

DC Gale said: “Harding is violent, controlling and deceptive and I’m pleased he has been sentenced. The victim was extremely brave to come forward and give evidence and is very much looking forward to starting to re-build her life with ongoing support and counselling. She said she is very grateful for police involvement and that we saved her life.

“Please seek help if you are experiencing domestic abuse; we have a team of specialist officers who can help, or you can contact the DA helpline.”

Coercive or controlling behaviour is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

Clare's Law gives people a right to know or a right to ask police whether a partner has a violent past. If you live in Hertfordshire you can apply online (opens in a new window).

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, you can Herts Sunflower (opens on a new window) for advice and support, or call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088, which is open weekdays from 9am to 9pm and weekends from 9am to 4pm. If you feel your life is in danger, always dial 999.

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