Thug Lee Gaffney has been jailed after assaulting his ex-girlfriend several times during a nightmare lockdown road trip to Blackpool.
The 31-year-old breached a non-molestation order to visit his ex at her home on April 15, and then subjected the woman to a 16-hour ordeal, during which he hit her in the face, spat at her and gripped her by the neck.
While drinking throughout the day, Gaffney drove his victim to the Lancashire coast, via Crewe and Warrington, in her own car, and smashed one of its windows.
Gaffney, of Macclesfield Street, Tunstall, has now been jailed for 22 months after admitting to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily charge, breaching a non-molestation order and a string of related offences.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that Gaffney contacted his victim via text message on Tuesday, April 14, asking if he could come around. She told him he could not come because her father was there.
At 7.30am the following day Gaffney went to the woman’s home, and accused her of lying to him about her dad being there the previous night.
Prosecutor Hugh O’Brien Quinn said: “When she denied that she had lied he hit her twice to the face. They both ended up upstairs in her bedroom. The defendant grabbed her and pushed her onto the bed, and forced her to admit that she had lied, following which he hit her again.
“He had split her lip and blood sprayed out onto the bedding and the bedroom wall.”
The woman then offered to make Gaffney a cup of tea in a bid to calm him down, and in the kitchen the interrogation continued.
Gaffney would not let her answer a message from her dad’s partner, and took her phone, keys and bank card.
He ordered her to get into her car, which he then drove off at speed to Crewe.
After buying some beer at a shop, Gaffney parked the car behind houses in the Gresty Road area of the town and continued to ask her why she had lied to him.
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He went through her phone and found a message from 2019 which said she had spent the night with another man.
Mr O’Brien Quinn said: “The defendant demanded to know who the man was, and if she had slept with him. She denied sleeping with him but the defendant hit her repeatedly and grabbed her by the neck until she said she had slept with him. Once she admitted it the defendant hit her some more and began pulling her hair.
“He got out of the car and told her that she had to tell his mother that she had cheated on him. She tried to explain that they had split up at the time, but he was having none of it.”
Gaffney took her to his mother’s house, which was nearby, but she was not at home.
He then drove a short distance, got out of the car and then kicked the passenger side window, smashing it and showering his victim with glass.
Mr O’Brien Quinn said: “He got back in the car and carried on driving, telling her that he was going to make an example of her. He stopped the car by a field, and started hitting her again.
“During the various assaults he spat in her face, gripped her neck so she couldn’t breathe, threw cans of beer at her head as well as punching her several times to the head and face.
“A witness, who saw one or two of the assaults in the car, described the defendant as ‘punching the hell out of her’.”
Gaffney then drove to Warrington, where he bought more beer using his victim’s bank card.
He then drove to Blackpool, where he tried, unsuccessfully, to look for a hotel where they could stay.
By this point the woman’s dad had seen that she was missing and had reported it to the police.
A few minutes after midnight officers stopped the car in Blackpool and Gaffney was arrested after refusing to give a breath sample.
Gaffney has previous convictions for various offences, including several breaches of restraining orders, and had had a number of spells behind bars.
The victim, who had been in a relationship with Gaffney for two years, obtained the non-molestation order in August 2019, and it was due to run until October of this year.
Sarah Badrawy, mitigating, told the court that Gaffney would ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol during difficult times.
She said: “It causes him to lose his inhibitions in relation to his relationships, employment, housing and offending. In my submission, alcohol was the trigger and the fuel for this offending.”
Ms Badrawy added that Gaffney believed his ex-partner had at times ’emotionally manipulated’ him and had suggested that she would be unfaithful.
But he now accepted that the relationship was over, and Ms Badrawy said he wanted to apologise for ‘letting everyone down once again’.
Judge David Fletcher sentenced Gaffney to 18 months for the assaults and the breach of the molestation order, and a further four months consecutive for two counts of driving while disqualified. Gaffney, who also admitted two counts of damaging property, two counts of driving with no insurance and failing to provide a specimen, was banned from driving for three years and 11 months.
Judge Fletcher told Gaffney: “Throughout this day you effectively had this woman under your control, first of all by visiting her at her home where you assaulted her. But thereafter there was a very prolonged period of time in her car, which you were driving while disqualified and without insurance, and you were consuming alcohol along the way.
“That resulted in a number of different incidents when you assaulted her.”