Girlfriend punched and threatened with knife

A PORTISHEAD man threatened his girlfriend with a knife before punching her twice in the head.

Vernon Smith had been drinking when he became abusive and progressively violent toward his partner of one-and-a-half years, Rebecca Bayliss.

The 36-year-old of Lower Burlington Road was arrested following the incident on August 5 and was subsequently charged with assault, assault by beating, drink driving and using words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He pleaded not guilty to all and a trial was held in his absence on Thursday after he failed to appear at North Somerset Courthouse near Weston.

On the morning of August 5, Smith had visited his brother on the opposite side of Portishead’s Marina and returned to the flat he shared with Rebecca at about 2pm.

He carried on drinking and began abusing his girlfriend, calling her names including slut, slag and whore.

He became more threatening and eventually said “I’m going to smash your face in and kill you”, “I can kill you, in fact I want to” before going to the kitchen and picking up an 8-inch knife, which he held to Rebecca’s throat.

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Scared he would pick up another knife, Rebecca threw the remaining contents of the cutlery draw out of their patio doors, on to the ground outside the Estuary House flat.

After more shouting, Smith sped off on his motorbike.

In the meantime, off duty police inspector Graham Fox had been walking past the building, spotted the cutlery and heard shouting inside the flat.

When he went to see what was happening, he found Rebecca in the doorway in a distressed state.

Smith then returned, shouting abuse at Inspector Fox.

Despite Inspector Fox explaining he had called the police and his efforts to try to calm Smith down, Smith carried on shouting abuse and swearing, slamming his helmet on the floor, before telling Rebecca to get back in the flat.

Inspector Fox said: “He threatened to beat me up and gradually got more and more worked up.

“I thought he was going to hit me.”

Back in the flat, Smith shoved Rebecca on to their bed before punching her twice in the head.

In the lounge he pushed her over on to a plant pot. She was left with a lump on her head and bruising to her back as a result.

Smith again left the flat and sped off on his motorbike just minutes before police officers arrived.

He was seen on the other side of the Marina shouting more abuse before being arrested when he returned to his flat.

During the trial, the court heard how Smith had two previous convictions relating to his behaviour toward Rebecca, one for assault and one for verbally abusing her.

Following the trial, Smith was found guilty of all four charges and a warrant was put on for his arrest so he can later be sentenced while present at court.