Couple who lived in tent in Stanley Park split after relationship became 'highly abusive'

A homeless couple who spent time living in a tent on Blackpool's Stanley Park broke up after the relationship became "highly abusive."
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The couple sat yards from each other in a Preston courtroom as their turbulent relationship was outlined to a judge.

The woman asked to be screened from sight from her ex-partner Mark West as he faced charges of harassment, assault and battery.

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West, 40, was jailed for almost two years for his violent treatment of her after they met in a pub and ended up living together on the streets of the resort for two tempestuous months.

He was also made the subject of an indefinite restraining order banning him from making contact with her, especially on his release from prison.

A homeless couple who lived in a tent in Stanley Park broke up after the relationship became "highly abusive" (Credit: Google/ Stock image: Azmie Kasmy) A homeless couple who lived in a tent in Stanley Park broke up after the relationship became "highly abusive" (Credit: Google/ Stock image: Azmie Kasmy)
A homeless couple who lived in a tent in Stanley Park broke up after the relationship became "highly abusive" (Credit: Google/ Stock image: Azmie Kasmy)

The court heard that the woman had been staying in a friend's flat, but became homeless shortly before she met West in The Bridge pub in Lytham Road.

Barrister Patrick Williamson, prosecuting, said West had bought her a drink and the couple later went back to the bed and breakfast where he was staying.

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They spent the next two nights there "drinking and having sex" before they both ran out of money.

The pair lived on the streets together for two months and West became more physically abusive towards his partner as the relationship went on, said Mr Williamson.

The charged of assault occasioning actual bodily harm related to an incident when the two were sleeping in a tent on the park.

They began fighting and she hit her head on a breeze block lying nearby.

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"She believes she was rendered unconscious for a short time,” said Mr Williamson. When she recovered she found she had a scalp wound which was bleeding. She didn't seek treatment for the gash, but she was seen by a doctor some days later and the wound had healed.

Mr Williamson said the charge of battery followed an incident in which West punched her in the face, splitting her top lip. She received treatment at hospital and the wound was stitched.

She later told police that she had continued to stay on the streets with West because "as a homeless woman she was in need of a protector and, ironically, the defendant was that person."

The woman then decided to go into a detox unit in an attempt to get her life back on track, but also had to spend time in hospital after experiencing seizures. West visited her almost every day.

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The harassment, she said, began after the end of the relationship. West persistently tried to contact her and she had to keep blocking him on her phone. The messages were "highly abusive."

Mr Williamson explained: "She said she was hounded by him. Some days it was over 50 calls. When she blocked his number he would call from other numbers."

West told her he had someone watching her and could accurately describe where she was, what she was wearing and what she was doing.

Police went to his address and heard voicemail messages from him which were "highly abusive". He denied making the calls and said she had initiated the contact. He said the assaults were him acting in self-defence.

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In a victim personal statement read in court the woman said she had to constantly look over her shoulder and she thought people were out to get her because of West. She had sleepless nights, nightmares and flashbacks.

She said the harassment had set back her rehabilitation progress and she had been forced to cut her ties with the Blackpool area to feel safe.           

The court heard that West, who gave his current address as Nechells Park Road, Birmingham, had 50 previous offences on his record, including convictions for assaulting women.

The prosecution applied for a restraining order to prohibit West from contacting the woman in future.

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Tom Lord, for West, said that while his client has pleaded guilty to the offences there were "aspects of the continued contact that are hotly disputed."

He said West would welcome a restraining order because he "doesn't want this relationship to continue." "It is pleasing," he added "that they have both moved on."

Recorder Jones told West his victim had struggled with alcohol and had relapsed. She said his motive by offering her a drink when they first met "was certainly not to assist her recovery."

She said that when, eventually, the woman had managed to get away from him he began making abusive calls to her. "Your messages were highly abusive. She was hounded by you.

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"Your calls were relentless. Some days who would receive 50 calls. You said you had someone watching her, which was particularly chilling.

"Your conduct has markedly set her back in rehab. She has had to cut ties with the Blackpool area."

Recorder Jones told West his criminal record was "dreadful." She added it was particularly concerning because of his behaviour towards women. He had convictions for sexual assault, assault, threatening behaviour and "numerous" harassment offences.

On the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm she sent him to prison for 18 months, for battery he got two months and for harassment three months, making a total of 23 months.