A THUG smiled as a court was told of how he left his pregnant partner with fractured facial bones during a “horrific” and unprovoked attack.

Lee Ansell, 42, grabbed her by the throat, pinning her to a bed and beating her repeatedly at a time when she was 27 weeks pregnant with his child.

The violence erupted in her bedroom after Ansell had been drinking alcohol, months after he attacked her in the garden of the home they shared.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard the couple had been in an “on and off ” relationship since August 2019.

In June 2020, the couple were together in the garden when an argument was sparked over the victim’s contact with an ex-partner, with whom she has two children.

The court heard Ansell shouted at her, before throwing his drink over her and advancing towards her with the empty glass.

Ansell smashed the glass over her arm, causing a large cut.

When the victim went inside to find a towel to stem the bleeding, Ansell followed, striking her in the head with the heel of his palm.

He then grabbed her by the throat with one hand, pushed her against a worktop and demanded her phone.

Judge Timothy Walker said: “She struggled to breathe, but managed to tell you where the phone was and you let her go to retrieve it.

“At that point her children came downstairs – they were upset and they saw the injuries to their mother.”

Ansell shouted at the children using abusive language before leaving.

The court heard on an evening in January 2021, Ansell was at home with the victim when he became angry and started drinking.

After his former partner went to sleep, he entered the bedroom and shouted at her about an “inconsequential” entry in a diary.

He threw the diary at her, hitting her on the cheek, before launching a vicious assault.

He struck her in the face, grabbed her by the throat and forced her onto the bed while she struggled for air.

Judge Walker said: “She was begging you to get off and you punched her to the face over and over again while pinning her down on the bed by her throat.”

The court heard the victim fled the house with her nine-year-old son and later struggled to recall much of the attack, other than a noise which she suspects was her son banging on the bedroom door.

When police attended the home and entered the bedroom, they found blood “smeared” on the walls and on the bed. 

The injuries suffered by the victim in the attack in January 2020 were described as “horrific”, including fractures to her face, chipped teeth and fractures to all four walls of her sinuses.

Read more: 'You destroyed my life' - abuse victim bravely faces attacker in court

Ansell, of Earls Colne, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Michael Edmonds, mitigating, said: “This defendant knows he is going to prison, and going to prison for a significant period of time.”

He said Ansell had accepted his responsibility and offered his “sincere and genuine apology”.

The court heard references were submitted in support of Ansell, including from a family friend, his mother and another former partner, who said she was never afraid of him during their relationship.

Mr Edmonds argued Ansell did not meet the criteria to be deemed a dangerous offender.

Judge Walker disagreed, deeming Ansell to be a dangerous offender and imposing an extended sentence of four years imprisonment with a further year to be served on licence.

He said he was unsure about the “sincerity” of Ansell’s apology, adding his behaviour during the hearing involved “smiling, looking towards the public gallery where somebody is, communicating with them and shaking your head”.

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