Attacker deemed ‘too vulnerable for prison’

Wigan And Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan And Leigh Magistrates' Court
Share this article

A Wigan man who repeatedly hit his girlfriend before forcing her head into a bath has avoided jail after being described as too vulnerable for custody.

Michael Disley, of Harold Street, Aspull, appeared before Wigan magistrates charged with four counts of breaching a non-molestation order and two of assault.

Other news: Arsonists set fire to three vehicles

The court heard the 23-year-old, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD, turned up at his now ex’s home in the middle of the night and was stood next to her when she woke up.

Prosecuting, Andrew Hay told justices’ that the defendant repeatedly broke the non-molestation order which had been brought into effect on June 25 to protect 39-year-old Angela Sutton.

“On July 24 she telephoned the police to say the defendant was inside her address,” said Mr Hay.

“She said he was kicking off and had assaulted her, slapping her to the left side of her face and pushing her to the floor. A short time later he returned asking for his bus pass.”

The day after this incident, on July 25 he breached the order again, texting Ms Sutton to apologise and ask if she wanted to borrow £20.

At 2am the following morning Ms Sutton, who was alone in her house on Turriff Grove, Ince, noticed Disley standing outside.

“He stood staring at her and she mouthed ‘go away”, said Mr Hay. “A short time later, while Ms Sutton lay asleep in bed he let himself in. He appeared next to her and offered her £15. She went into the living room but he took hold of her and attempted to hug her. He held her in a tight grip.”

The court heard how the second attack then took place, while Ms Sutton was on the phone to police trying to get help.

“He repeatedly struck her,” added the prosecutor. “He pushed her head and hit it against the bath.”

Later that day Disley contacted his ex again to apologise for scaring her.

In a victim impact statement Ms Sutton told police: “I feel intimidated and scared for my own safety. I feel unsafe in my own home. It has caused me to self-harm.”

Defending, Bill Pearson said his client has a history of being “taken advantage of” by people around him, which he said explained why he repeatedly offered her money.

The court heard how Disley failed to understand the “enormity” of the crimes he had committed, and that he was given “mixed messages” when his ex invited him over.

Mr Pearson said Disley, after spending a weekend on remand in Forest Bank prison, had realised the error of his ways.

“He tells me it is the most frightening experience of his life,” he said. “I think it must have been a life-changing experience. He is a young man with no previous convictions, he will be vulnerable.”

A probation officer, who assessed Disley before his court appearance, agreed that a community order would be the best punishment.

“He is quite vulnerable,” said the probation worker. “He is unsuitable for unpaid work and I don’t think it would do him any favours either.”

After deliberating, magistrates handed Disley a 12-month community order, during which time he must complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity.

He was also ordered to pay £360 in costs which includes £150 in compensation to Ms Sutton.