A WIGAN mum says she is lucky to be alive after being smashed in the face with a car jack in a vicious attack.
Cath Berry believes that if a witness had not intervened after just one savage blow to the head, Michael Ineson may well have killed her.
Ineson, who in the same incident also injured his partner, Lisa Kennedy, in a jealous, drunken rage, has been jailed for 15 months.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that the 33-year-old from Chestnut Grove, Ashton, repeatedly punched both terrified women about the head, before striking mother-of-two Ms Berry with the blunt instrument. When a witness arrived, Ineson fled in her Vauxhall Corsa.
The hearing was told he suffers from depression and has no previous convictions. His defence added that Ineson’s employer of the last 18 years held him in such high regard that he has paid for therapy at the famous Priory Clinic.
Ms Berry, an advertising rep for our sister paper the St Helens Reporter who lives in Ashton, said: “That day in December has changed me as a person. I used to be very outgoing, but I have not been out socialising since. I just haven’t got the confidence and didn’t even celebrate my 30th birthday recently.
“My partner has had to put up with my panic attacks and flashbacks and my children believe I was injured in a car crash. I was off work for two months and was so embarrassed about the bruising I couldn’t take my children to school.
“An independent witness – and I still don’t know his name – arrived after I had been hit with the jack. I truly believe that if he hadn’t, I might not have been in a position to give this interview now. I might even have died. After all – how many blows from a car jack can you take to the head?”
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Gerald Clifton told Ineson: “You went to find a weapon, found it and took it towards the women and used it. You used that weapon on that woman’s face and head. It could have had quite devastating results and she is particularly lucky, and so are you, that it did not.”
Ineson had pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm, common assault, taking a Vauxhall Corsa without consent, driving with excess alcohol and without insurance.
Iain Criddle, prosecuting, said Ineson had been in a four-month relationship with Ms Kennedy but they were splitting up because of his increasingly erratic behaviour.
On December 28 the couple were out drinking in Ashton town centre along with a male friend, and Ms Kennedy’s friend, Ms Berry. He started accusing Ms Kennedy of having a relationship with his male friend and they went their separate ways.
At 2am Ineson went round to Ms Kennedy’s home in Newton-le-Willows and she could see he had been self-harming by stubbing a cigarette out on his arm.
Concerned for his behaviour, she rang her friend Ms Berry to come round. After she arrived, Ineson lunged or fell towards them both while holding a knife and they decided to leave, said Mr Criddle.
The two women got into Ms Berry’s car with Ms Kennedy with the front passenger seat but as they set off Ineson jumped in the back. During the journey he began pulling at Ms Kennedy’s hair from behind and Ms Berry stopped the car outside the Thistle Hotel in Haydock and the two women tried to get the unwanted passenger out of the vehicle.
While the two women were on the ground he repeatedly punched them on their heads. He then stopped and went to the car boot and took out a jack and hit Ms Berry across the face with it.
He fled in the car but police called at his home at 5am and when breathalysed he was found to be more than twice the drink-driving limit.
Ms Kennedy suffered a cut lip, loose teeth, bumps to her head, missing hair and bruising to her arms.
Martin Pizzey, defending, said that Ineson “could not offer any excuse or motivation but he was in a particularly low place.”
He had been struggling to cope since the death of a family member and compensated by drinking to excess. That night he had taken medication and alcohol which has blocked out his memory of events.
“He is genuinely mortified by his behaviour,” said Mr Pizzey. He had suspicions that a relationship was developing between his girlfriend and his friend.
“In a moment of madness he simply lost his self-control and behaved very impulsively and reacted to the circumstances.”
After the hearing Ms Berry said: “I am pleased at the sentence because at one point we thought he might not be sent to prison. He has never shown remorse but after this perhaps I can finally get my life back on track.”