Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Ulster showjumper who threatened to drop girl in bath of bleach is jailed

Jonathan Cresswell
Abigail Lyle
Abigail Lyle

A top Northern Ireland showjumper who threatened to drop his glamorous girlfriend in a bleach-filled bath has been jailed for six months for a catalogue of abuse against her.

In a warning to those who subject their partners to repeated violence, Dungannon Crown Court Judge David McFarland told Jonathan James Cresswell yesterday that they should expect, and will receive, custodial sentences as the court would not tolerate such behaviour.

In all, the 22-year-old Tyrone showjumper from Chestnut Manor in Caledon pleaded guilty to five charges of assaulting his former 25-year-old girlfriend Abigail Lyle, occasioning her actual bodily harm, and one of common assault between February and August last year.

Miss Lyle is the daughter of road safety advertising guru David Lyle and a keen rider.

However, two charges of threatening to kill Miss Lyle, smashing her mobile phone and kidnapping her were not proceeded with and allowed to “lie the books”.

Cresswell, who in the past has represented both Ireland and Europe on the showjumping circuit, stood in the dock his head bowed, showing no emotion.

In contrast, Ms Lyle wept as she appealed to other victims to come forward and get help to escape their abusive partners.

“This kind of thing happens all too often ... but it shouldn't happen to anyone ... ever,” said Ms Lyle outside court, who added: “Today shows that the systems in place to help people do work, so there is no reason to take abuse of any kind.

“Without the support of Nuala from the police domestic violence unit, women's aid and my close family and friends I would never have gotten through this.”

Earlier, prosecution lawyer Simon Reid told how the couple had met in October 2008, but |on Valentine's Day last year Cresswell's obsessive jealously reared its ugly head.

That evening the pair seemingly patched up their difficulties, but instead Cresswell turned nasty, lashing out and punching her as he took her on a drive through the countryside.

Cresswell apologised, “saying he was sorry” to his bruised victim and so it was to continue until Abi was finally rescued by a female detective from the domestic violence unit who had been advising her.

However, that rescue only came after she'd suffered six months of abuse and was told by Cresswell: “I have filled a bath with bleach and I'm going to put you in it.”

Mr Reid said that while the prosecution accepted he had not actually filled a bath, the threat was meant to “clearly scare her into submission”.

Defence lawyer Patrick Taggart said Cresswell can give no reason for his behaviour, although he does accept he is responsible.

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