Belfast Telegraph

Guilty: Thug who punched pregnant girlfriend in stomach

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A teenager who was forcefully punched in the stomach twice when she was pregnant has spoken of her relief after the baby's father admitted attacking her – telling her "you should probably have a miscarriage now".

The young woman – who went on to have a healthy baby girl – said she is determined to get on with her life after Richard 'Rickie' Joseph Fullerton appeared in court yesterday where he admitted assaulting her.

Fullerton (20) was cleared of the more serious second charge of assaulting her with intent to procure a miscarriage after the prosecution offered no further evidence on the count.

The court heard the Magherafelt man punched his former girlfriend in the stomach when she was in the early stages of pregnancy sometime between December 2009 and February 1, 2010, telling her "you should probably have a miscarriage now".

The victim, now aged 18, fell pregnant when she was 14 and Fullerton was 16. Despite the attack the teenager, who does not wish to be named, went on to have a healthy baby girl in August 2010.

Antrim Crown Court Judge Desmond Marrinan QC told Fullerton that while what happened between them was possibly a mistake, Fullerton had certainly "made a mistake in assaulting a young girl when pregnant, which I take to be a very serious matter".

The judge also warned Fullerton, with an address in Leckagh Drive in the Co Londonderry town, that when it came to his pre-sentence report he needed to explain fully his attitude, and that he "hoped it is one of remorse".

Judge Marrinan said, however, that the fact the "child was born healthy and well is the most important matter in this case".

Following Fullerton's conviction his former girlfriend said she was "happy it has come to an end".

The teenager said that all she wanted was for her and her family "to put this behind us and get on with our lives".

Initially yesterday Fullerton went on trial denying two charges. Common assault between December 2009 and February 1, 2010, and, secondly, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, unlawfully using an instrument, or other means, namely a blow to her stomach.

However, after a taped police interview from the girl was played to the court, defence QC John Kearney asked for Fullerton to be rearraigned on the assault charge.

Following his plea of guilty, prosecutor Robin Steer told the jury and Judge Marrinan that they would be offering no further evidence on the second count.

In the circumstances, the judge directed the jury to find him guilty by confession on count one, but to acquit him of the more serious second count.

Judge Marrinan said the case had reached a delicate moment, before the end of the evidence of the girl, and that certain matters had to be explored.

In the earlier taped interview, the teenage girl told police that when initially she told Fullerton that a pregnancy test "had come back positive" he became "very upset and annoyed", and said the test may have been "mixed up".

However, when she turned round to give him a hug, she said: "He punched me in the stomach twice... full force punch... just below the belly button."

She said as she "sat on the bed doubled in two," her younger brother came in asking what was wrong, only for Fullerton to tell him that she had "a sore stomach".

Asked by police why she had been punched, she said it was because Fullerton "didn't want me to have the baby".

The teenager also revealed that Fullerton encouraged her to seek an abortion.

Fullerton will be sentenced next month.

Woman is rebuilding her life with baby daughter

BY PAUL HIGGINS

The young woman whose baby survived after she was punched twice in the stomach while pregnant has spoken of her determination to study for her A-levels.

The victim, who was just 14 when she fell pregnant to Richard Joseph Fullerton, said she is relieved after his last-minute change of plea and admission that he attacked her.

The young mother said Fullerton, who was 16 at the time his then girlfriend became pregnant, had not seen their daughter since she was eight months.

Speaking outside court after her ex-boyfriend admitted punching her when she was in the early stages of pregnancy, the woman said despite the attack he had been offered the chance to develop a relationship with his child.

"He was very controlling during our relationship," said the victim, who is now 18.

"I wasn't allowed to go out with friends or get certain things, even buying stuff for our daughter was a problem."

The teenager said she was "happy to be away from" the Magherafelt man.

She is studying for A-levels and would like to work in a school or nursery.

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