Ex-serviceman beat and tried to strangle partner, court told

A former serviceman who brutally beat and tried to strangle his partner is to be subjected to a psychiatric assessment before he is sentenced.

Jonathan Ladley, 36, repeatedly struck the woman on the body before pushing her to the floor in a violent attack at her address in Browns Road, Lerwick, on 6th February, putting her life in danger by compressing her throat.

On Wednesday Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Ladley, who had a long military record in the Army and had seen active service in troubled spots, including Iraq, told her: “I could kill you.”

Ladley first appeared in the dock in private two days after the offence took place when he was charged with attempted murder. He was remanded in custody until Wednesday when he appeared on the lesser charge of assault to injury and endangerment of life before Sheriff Graeme Napier.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Ladley had been making attempts at a reconciliation with the woman when the offence took place.

Both of them had been out drinking, however Ladley suspected his partner had taken “something other than alcohol” and had been angry with her.

He challenged her again when they had returned to her address before launching the unprovoked attack. “He stated ‘I could kill you’ and put both hands round her throat,” Mr MacKenzie said. “He repeated the question three times: ‘Do you want me to kill you?'”

Ladley eventually relaxed his grip on her, but after a period of calm when they discussed what had happened he turned on the woman again.

Ladley stood up and started punching the woman in the chest, making her feel as if her ribs were going to break.

He tried to strangle her again and only stopped punching when the woman started “twitching” and went lifeless.

The court heard she came round and went to the bathroom, from where she texted her daughter telling her to phone the police.

The woman’s breathing was laboured, said Mr MacKenzie, and it appeared painful for her to draw breath. Ladley, meanwhile, remained calm and quiet as he sat on the sofa.

After being detained he was “frank and forthright” about the attack and stated during a police interview he “wanted the complainer dead”.

He said he had only relaxed his grip on the woman because he thought she had died.

However Mr MacKenzie said that position was “at odds” with an earlier interview, when Ladley had said: “If I hadn’t let go I would have killed her.”

The court heard Ladley’s victim had expressed concern that he had issues in his life that have not been dealt with.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said there may be “substantial background” relating to Ladley’s time in active service, but he insisted Ladley had “at no point tried to play on that, or use it as an excuse”. “He has not put that forward as any kind of justification for this,” Mr Allan said.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said it would be “appropriate” in the circumstances to order a psychiatric report before imposing sentence on Ladley.

He also deferred sentence for a social inquiry report, restriction of liberty and community service assessments. Ladley, who was remanded in custody, will appear for sentencing on 21st April.


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