Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed for leaving ex-partner with broken back after allegedly kicking her from first floor window loses appeal bid

By Alan Erwin

A man jailed for leaving his ex-partner with a broken back after allegedly kicking her from a first floor window has failed a bid to overturn his conviction.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims that a jury was pressurised into finding Joseph Henry Smith guilty of intentionally causing the woman grievous bodily harm at her south Belfast home.

Smyth, 33, from Hillhead Cottages on the city's Shaws Road, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for the drink-fuelled attack in September 2015.

He was cleared of a separate charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal - the woman's eight-month old Miniature Schnauzer puppy.

According to the prosecution Smyth turned violent after he went to put the dog out of the victim's Tate's Avenue home.

He trailed her upstairs by the hair, inflicting repeated punches to the face and hitting her on the head with a vacuum cleaner, it was claimed.

At one stage Smyth allegedly latched onto her nose with his teeth, biting in on either side.

She recalled climbing out of a first floor bedroom window onto roofing in a bid to escape.

Smyth was said to have come over and kicked her off the windowsill, causing her to fall to the pavement below.

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment to injuries including a spinal fracture, an 8cm wound to her head, a fractured hand and a broken nose.

Despite also claiming her ex-partner had thrown the puppy against a wall and down a flight of stairs, Smyth was subsequently acquitted of animal cruelty.

He agreed there had been some form of dispute, but denied kicking the woman off the balcony or forming any intent to do her serious harm.

His case was that she climbed out onto the windowsill and then fell off due to drugs consumption.

But the jury rejected that version of events, finding him guilty of attacking the woman and assaulting police during his arrest.

Appealing the outcome of the trial, Smyth's lawyers argued that an irregularity in taking the verdict rendered the conviction unsafe.

With jurors having to consider alternate offences, it was contended that they were inappropriately pressurised into coming to a verdict on the first, more serious count for which he was ultimately found guilty.

But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled that the trial judge had acted correctly.

He confirmed: "We do not consider the conviction on count one unsafe."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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