Throttling hands classed as weapons by Birmingham judge.

A judge sitting at Birmingham Crown Court has ruled, for the first time in my experience, that using hands to throttle a victim is akin to using a weapon.

Anthony Adamson, 28, was appearing for sentence after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm.

In an attack on his ex-girlfriend at their Netheravon Close flat, in Druids Heath, Adamson threatened to carve up and bite his terrified partner on June 23.

He went on to punch her repeatedly to the head, ripping out an eye-piercing in the process, before dragging her to the floor and throttling her.

In the context of domestic violence cases I’ve seen, throttling is fairly common. I don’t know what it is about blokes who batter their partners, they always seem to go for the jugular.

What was unusual about this case was the suggestion from the judge, His Honour Judge Paul Farrer QC, that by throttling his partner in this way, Adamson had in fact used a weapon i.e his hands.

Under guidelines set by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, the use of a weapon for this offence is an aggravating feature and can lead to a longer sentence

Listed under other aggravating factors the guidelines say; “Use of a weapon or weapon equivalent (eg shod foot, head butting, use of acid, use of animal)”.

I’d be curious if anyone else with experience of the courts has ever seen a judge rule throttling hands amounts to the use of a weapon.

Judge Farrer, in discussions with counsel, explained his line of thinking was that, if a trained boxer (or fighter) uses the skills they have to punch somebody, the hands could be considered a weapon. As I understand it Adamson was not a trained boxer or anything of that sort.

Ben Williams, defending, argued against that. If throttling hands are classed as a weapon, then any blow delivered with a fist would amount to the use of a weapon. He urged the court against the risk of over analysis.

In the event, jailing Adamson for 20 months, Judge Farrer said; “It is a sustained attack against a vulnerable victim in her own home.

“There was strangulation and in my judgement, notwithstanding the representations, that is akin to the use of a weapon.”

The judge ruled this was a category one case (the most serious) and falling high within the range.

With previous convictions for grievous bodily harm against another partner – in which Adamson battered her with a bottle and plank before stabbing her – he was jailed for 20months.

Given those other aggravating features, the length of the attack and the vulnerability of the victim, I’m not sure how much difference to the sentence the use of a weapon ruling made.

But if future cases were more borderline such a ruling could make a difference to the sentence imposed.


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