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Throat grab not ‘choking’ despite loss of consciousness

A DEFENCE lawyer claims the only reason his client was not charged with choking is because the victim did not lose the ability to breathe.

Instead, Laurence Joseph Craig Spark was charged with two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, to which he pleaded guilty to in Rockhampton District Court on August 21.

The incident leading to the charges took place at Cracow on September 21, 2018.

Crown prosecutor Elise Sargent said a person was visiting the couple about 5pm when an argument erupted and Spark made comments about his wife’s drug habits.

She said the wife responded saying she was not a druggie like Spark’s mother.

Defence barrister Tom Polley said Spark’s mother was a heavy drug user.

The court heard the friend encouraged Spark to leave after he became angry at the comment about his mother.

Spark went to the hotel and drank excessively before moving on to a friend’s place and continued drinking.

Judge Michael Burnett said Spark was heavily intoxicated when a friend walked him home.

“You found your wife asleep on a mattress on the living room floor,” he said.

Judge Burnett said Spark shook his wife awake and repeatedly punched her in the head, leaving bruises on her face, arms and head.

The court heard Spark accused his wife of having sex with another man, which she denied.

She managed to get to her feet, but Spark pushed her back to the ground where he grabbed her by the throat.

“She was able to release your grip,” Judge Burnett said.

He said the throat grab left bruises and scratches and she lost consciousness.

Mr Polley said while the incident had a “choking flavour”, his client was not charged with choking.

“Had there been actual loss of breathe, it would be a choking charge,” he said.

Mr Polley said his client had been raised around drugs and violence.

“Alcohol has been a problem throughout his adult life, stemming from childhood,” he said.

“He has been drinking strongly since 16.”

Mr Polley said Spark lived on the streets for a period.

He said Spark had been with the wife for 16 years but they were now separated and she continued living in his house, which he was happy for her to do.

Mr Polley said Spark had a new partner and alcohol “was not a theme” in this relationship.

He said his client, who was first on the scene of his father’s suicide at age 12, had regular visits to mental health services, but never regularly.

Judge Burnett said Spark’s criminal record showed he had been in and out of courts since 2005 for violence against his wife, with the first conviction on his record being for assault occasioning bodily harm.

“It is plain you have difficulty in your relationships with women,” he said.

Judge Burnett sentenced Spark to three years prison with parole on April 20, 2021.

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