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Jailed: man who subjected his wife to terrifying ordeal

A man who forced his estranged wife into the boot of a car and drove off with her as well as hitting her, tying her up and burning her with paint thinners has been jailed for 18 months.

Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that the couple's two children saw some of the attacks carried out by Ballymena man Dennis David Steele (32) on his wife Nicola.

Steele, from Church Road, Glenwherry, pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Nicola Steele and assaulting her, causing her actual bodily harm on August 6, 2008.

A prosecution lawyer said that Mrs Steele, who had been sleeping with her three-year-old daughter, was dragged out of bed by her hair by Steele who had brought his son back to the house after a football match.

Steele, who was armed with a knife, slapped his wife and tied her hands together with shoelaces before hitting her on the head and trailing her into the boot of a car which he then drove away.

The court was told that Steele brought his wife back to the house and pushed her onto a sofa before throwing a bottle of turpentine over her and flicking matches at her, inflicting minor burns to her neck and stomach.

Steele then put his wife in the bath before taking her back into the bedroom where the couple then lay down on either side of their daughter.

The court heard that Steele “exploded into a rage again” after his wife said she would leave him once and for all. He tied up her hands and feet and put a rolled up sock into her mouth and only released her after she indicated she would stay with him.

A defence lawyer said the Steeles had met in their mid-teens but they separated after their relationship became unstable. He said both had used drugs and Steele also had a drink problem.

The lawyer said Steele was now in a settled and stable relationship with a new partner who had a baby eight weeks ago. His partner was in the public gallery to hear Judge Geoffrey Miller describe Steele as “an irrational man who had left his former wife fearful and scared of him”.

Steele agreed to complete two years probation on his release from jail.

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