An ex-soldier who served in Iraq has been allowed out of jail to return to the girlfriend that he brutally beat and tried to strangle. Jonathan Ladley, 36, a prisoner in Aberdeen, was released today after the woman told Sheriff Graeme Napier she wanted him back at her home in Lerwick’s Brown’s Road.
As punishment for his violent attack he was placed on probation for three years and will have to carry out 300 hours of community service. He also has to attend a course for men who are violent to women and seek help with his issues with alcohol and combat stress. The court heard that during his time in Iraq he had witnessed horrific injuries to civilians and children from two roadside bombs.
Ladley had previously admitted assaulting his girlfriend at her house on 6th February during which he hit her, pushed her to the floor and compressed her throat, endangering her life.
The sheriff said the assault had been very serious and had not stopped until the woman started twitching and went lifeless. He was originally charged with attempted murder.
The attack happened after the pair had been out drinking and Ladley suspected she had taken something other than alcohol as well. He asked her if she wanted him to kill her, before closing his hands around her throat. Eventually he let go but resumed the assault a short time later, punching and strangling her.
On his behalf his defence agent Tommy Allan told the court it was clear Ladley had been good at his job and the army tried to persuade him not to leave. An assessment of his mental state had concluded that he did not appear to have extreme post-traumatic stress but would benefit from counselling. He said Ladley sometimes found himself acting strangely, such as finding himself downstairs in the house without knowing how he had got there.
Other reasons for his stress included his marriage break-up, too much alcohol and the side-effects of his anti-depressants. When the attack happened he had been due to see a doctor to come off the medication because he felt it was making him more angry and irritable.
The sheriff was considering allowing Ladley to be released to a new home in Shetland but it became clear on Wednesday that there was nothing available except bed and breakfast accommodation.
His girlfriend was in court for his appearance and had also travelled down to visit Ladley in custody where he had been since 8th February.
The sheriff spoke to her, making it clear that his otherwise positive social inquiry report assessed there was a risk he might be violent again and a particular risk of violence towards women. However, she assured him that she understood the situation and was not under pressure to take Ladley back.
Sheriff Napier decided to allow him to return, warning him that the court and his girlfriend were placing a huge amount of trust on him and if he let them down he would be going straight to jail.
His three-year period of probation may be reduced if he impresses his social workers with his performance.