Jealous dad guilty of stabbing partner

A JEALOUS boyfriend who plunged a 25cm knife into his pregnant girlfriend's back within hours of his early release from prison is facing a lengthy jail term after he was found guilty of wounding her with intent.

A JEALOUS boyfriend who plunged a 25cm knife into his pregnant girlfriend's back within hours of his early release from prison is facing a lengthy jail term after he was found guilty of wounding her with intent.

Campaigners for penal reform last night said the case of Derek Burns, who carried out the brutal attack as his four children screamed hysterically, undermined public confidence in the criminal justice system.

They said the prisons overcrowding crisis was “forcing” the Government to release prisoners early from their sentences.

Burns attacked his girlfriend Leigh-Anne Hammond - and at one stage fought off his four-year-old son who had climbed on to his back - just hours after he was released, for assaulting his mother-in-law, under a special prison scheme.


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Judge David Goodin described the stabbing as a “wicked attack” and that Burns had acted in a fit of jealous rage after accusing his girlfriend of having an affair while he was in prison.

A jury at Ipswich Crown Court took less than an hour to convict the 46-year-old after the attack at the couple's home in Baldwin Avenue, Bury St Edmunds in December.

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After the jury's verdict, the court heard that Burns had a number of previous convictions for violence including common assault, assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.

During a three-day trial the court heard that Burns had been jailed on November 27 for 16 weeks for assaulting Miss Hammond's mother and for drink driving. But he was released just over two weeks later - unbeknown to Miss Hammond and her family.

He then accused Miss Hammond, who was five months pregnant, of having an affair while he was in prison and during a blazing row grabbed a kitchen knife and “plunged” it into her back.

She ran barefoot from the house in her pyjamas and was taken to hospital suffering from a punctured lung after collapsing in the street.

Giving evidence during the trial Miss Hammond, who has since given birth to a boy, said their four children - aged five, four, two and one - had been screaming hysterically after witnessing the attack and at one stage her four-year-old son had climbed onto Burns' back.

Speaking after the case, Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Overcrowding in the prison estate is now forcing the government to release prisoners early and is undermining public confidence in criminal justice.

“We need to think seriously about the dangers of overusing custody as the be all and end all of tackling crime, as we simply cannot keep up in sustaining the prison places.

“The best way to free up places for those who do require custody would be to look at the many people in jail whose addictions and mental health problems would be better treated by properly resourced programmes in the community.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson confirmed Burns was on a End of Custody Licence (ECL) scheme, which allowed him to be released early and was only available to prisoners whose offences are not considered serious enough by the court to justify a long term of imprisonment.

He said: “Of those released on ECL, just 1% have been notified to the National Offender Management Service as allegedly offending during the ECL period.”

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