Jury told of ‘cruel attack’ on woman

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A woman with learning difficulties was held prisoner in a Blackpool flat where she was subjected to a sickening series of assaults, a court heard.

The woman was allegedly attacked with an electronic de-vice, forced to swallow tablets, punched and had her hair cut.

Preston Crown Court heard three people were involved in keeping the 34-year-old at a Central Drive property over a number of days.

The alleged victim in the case has been described by the prosecution as having significant learning difficulties and a mental age of between five to 15 years of age.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said: “From August 13 to 17 last year, the Crown says the victim was subjected to a prolonged, degrading and cruel attack at the hands of the three defendants.

“She suffered physical and emotional harm.”

Suzannah Bertram, 32, of Central Drive, Blackpool, has denied charges of false imprisonment, administering a poi-son or noxious substance with intent, possessing a prohibited weapon and unlawful wounding. She has pleaded guilty to a single charge of unlawful wounding.

Fraser Gallagher, 20, of Hardridge Road, Glasgow, denies unlawful wounding. He has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, administering a poison or noxious substance with intent, and possessing a prohibited weapon, as has a third defendant, Derek Buchanan, 18, of Shannon Street, Blackpool.

The victim and her husband had been living in a flat above defendant Suzannah Bertram.

On August 13 last year, her husband, an epileptic, was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The woman went to the flat below where the three defend-ants were said to be drinking alcohol.

The prosecution say Gallagher told her to get down on the floor.

Mr Haworth added: “At some stage she felt wet on her legs. She thought someone had urinated on her legs.

“ She felt an electronic shock being applied to her legs. It beggars belief.”

The woman was repeatedly “zapped” with a device similar to an electronic fly swatter, causing burns.

Gallagher is said to have punched her in the mouth.

The court heard Bertram took the woman to hospital, telling her to say she had been attacked in the street.

She then returned to the flat, where it is alleged her legs were tied by cable, her hair was cut, and she was made to take some of her husband’s medica-tion.

The prosecution say Bertram then took a knife and started to cut down on the woman’s right arm.

The next thing the victim was aware of was waking up in hospital.

The prosecution claim Bertram and Gallagher went on to tell a “pack of lies” during po-lice questioning.

Gallagher said Bertram had caused the lip injury by punching her in the mouth. He denied any other involvement.


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