Dorset Police Officer Matthew Cherry 'Punched Pregnant Ex-Girlfriend Caroline Craft In Stomach'

Police Officer 'Punched Pregnant Ex-Girlfriend In The Stomach'

A police officer repeatedly punched his pregnant ex-girlfriend in the stomach because he did not want her to have his baby, a court has heard.

Matthew Cherry, 35, is alleged to have barged his way into Caroline Craft's flat in Bournemouth, wearing a balaclava and hooded top, to carry out the attack and try to force a miscarriage.

Cherry, a Dorset Police officer at the time, was angry, aggressive and desperate for Miss Craft to have an abortion, Winchester Crown Court heard.

He is also alleged to have told her that he had thought about punching her in the stomach so she would lose her baby.

The pair split up after she decided not to have a termination.

Miss Craft was six months' pregnant when she was attacked.

Cherry, from Parkstone in Poole, Dorset, denies attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and said he was not the attacker.

Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, said Miss Craft, 27, also a Dorset Police officer, was in her ground-floor flat at around 10am on March 24 last year waiting for an estate agent to call because she was selling up.

In the meantime, the barrister said, a man the prosecution claim was Cherry got into the block by buzzing an intercom of another flat and saying "police".

Cherry then pretended to be a cleaner using a vacuum cleaner, in what was a planned attack by someone "forensically aware", Mr Jewell said.

"Caroline Craft then heard a knock on the door of her flat. She opened the door which was then pushed violently from outside and she was either pushed or punched to the floor," Mr Jewell said.

"She was then attacked with multiple punches to her stomach and back, in a way which targeted her unborn child. She shouted for help and a gloved hand was placed over her mouth. She was also kicked.

"She pointed out valuable items in case this was a robbery or burglary but her attacker showed no interest in taking anything.

"She was dragged into the bathroom and forced to sit on the toilet. The male said he would tie her up. She was absolutely terrified about what was happening to her in her own home."

But then the doorbell rang before the attacker could go any further, as estate agent Paul Penny turned up.

The attacker fled, the jury was told, using a back door - because he knew the layout of the building.

"He (Mr Penny) saw Caroline bloodied and bruised. She was taken to hospital and although she had extensive bruising and some scratches, she was not seriously harmed. Equally fortunately, her unborn baby was unharmed.

"It is quite clear however, that her attacker had begun an assault upon her which he intended to cause her really serious harm, and the only reason that he did not do so was the arrival of Mr Penny."

Mr Jewell told the court that Cherry previously owned the flat and had sold it to Miss Craft. They met in May 2010 and their relationship was not happy, with Cherry even denying he was seeing Miss Craft.

The couple moved in together with another woman, Carla Hutchings, renting a spare room.

Miss Craft found out she was pregnant in October 2010.

"The defendant did not take the news well," Mr Jewell told the jury.

Later, after a party, Cherry told Miss Craft "she had ruined his life and told her to get out".

The barrister said: "She sat in the lounge crying. After a short time, he too began to cry and apologised."

During the following weeks Cherry made it clear he did not want the child and said he wanted Miss Craft to have an abortion. He also said he was not the father.

In October 2010 the couple visited a doctor and it was clear that Miss Craft wanted the baby but Cherry did not, the jury heard.

"He was vocal and forceful during the consultation. She was subservient and tearful," Mr Jewell said.

"The doctor was so concerned by his behaviour that she left the consultation to speak to a colleague about it."

The next month Miss Craft told the doctor that she wanted a termination but she was not happy about it.

Cherry was present but said little. She later did not go through with it and Cherry was aggressive about the decision. The couple then split.

The barrister said that Cherry spoke to a colleague while on police patrol about how he could bring about a miscarriage but by December he seemed to have changed his mind and said that he would fight for custody, the jury was told.

Carla Hutchings was away in New York when Miss Craft was attacked, and she had posted the trip on Facebook, Mr Jewell said, adding that Cherry had access to her page.

Footwear impressions were found at the scene and were found to have been left by size-10 Nike Dart trainers.

Cherry has a size-10 shoe and when his home was searched a Nike box was found which originally held size-10 Nike Dart trainers, the barrister explained.

The actual trainers were thrown away by Cherry, but he slipped up by leaving the box, Mr Jewell alleged.

CCTV found a hooded man reconnoitring the route to the flat an hour before the attack. It was the same route the hooded attacker took when he fled which was also caught on CCTV.

An expert said there was "moderate support" for the men being the same person and "limited support" for it being Cherry.

Analysis found that the man on the CCTV was 6ft 1in and Cherry is 6ft 1in, the barrister said.

Police also found out that the vacuum cleaner the attacker carried was a Panasonic model. One of similar appearance was given to the defendant's brother and was kept in a communal area but it disappeared after the attack.

Each piece of evidence is not significant on its own but put together they represent "a compelling picture" that it was Cherry who carried out "a savage attack on his ex-partner carrying his child", Mr Jewell told the jury.

"He had a motive for doing so and who else would have the motive for carrying out the attack in this particular way, targeting the unborn child?" Mr Jewell asked the jury.

When arrested Cherry said he had not attacked Miss Craft and that he was at a house he was renovating in nearby Poole when it happened.

Miss Craft gave birth to a boy last year.

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