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Northern Ireland student Ward who attacked pregnant woman in Preston is jailed

By Staff Reporter

A university student from Northern Ireland who strangled a pregnant woman until she stopped breathing has been jailed for five years.

Connor Ward (29) told the woman "you deserve to die" as he carried out the attack in his halls of residence in Moor Lane, Preston.

He also punched the victim in her abdomen before she managed to escape.

The terrified woman admitted she feared for her life as she fought off her attacker and kicked him to the floor. She fled the flat naked but did manage to grab a coat on her way out, before seeking help from a neighbour.

Ward - who was studying music production at the University of Central Lancashire - denied the attack, but was convicted of attempted grievous bodily harm following a trial at Preston Crown Court. Judge Robert Altham handed Ward a five-year sentence and imposed a 10-year restraining order banning him from going within 200 metres of the woman.

The court heard that Ward had been out with the woman that evening and had flown into a jealous rage when she was in bed.

He pinned her down and put his hands to her throat, squeezing until she stopped breathing.

During the attack he called her names and told the victim: "You deserve to die."

Sentencing Ward, Judge Altham said: "To punch a pregnant woman in her abdomen is a particularly callous thing to do, but that was not the most serious part of the assault.

"You placed your hand and you squeezed.

"She was and must have been absolutely terrified as that happened. I have seen photos of the injuries she sustained to her throat."

The judge commented that he took into account Ward's serious health problems, and accepted that the accused was a kind and caring man to his fiancée.

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