A Lancashire woman who carried out a series of assaults on her partner – hitting him with a hammer, a curtain pole and a bottle – has had her “unduly lenient” jail sentence increased by four years.
Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London upped the eight years originally imposed on Gemma Hollings, 37, of Darwen, to 12 years.
Hollings, who was jailed after being found guilty of four offences committed against her 30-year-old partner over a period of around 24 hours at the home they shared, watched proceedings via video link from prison.
Her original term, handed down at Preston Crown Court last October, was quashed by Lord Justice Fulford, Mr Justice Walker and Mr Justice Flaux after they heard argument on behalf of Solicitor General Robert Buckland that eight years did not adequately reflect the gravity of her crimes.
It was also submitted to the appeal judges that a sentence needed to be imposed which would deter others from carrying out similar offences – some of which carried the risk of causing permanent disability or death.
Lord Justice Fulford, announcing the decision of the court to increase the sentence, said her victim suffered “extensive” injuries.
She grabbed and squeezed his testicles, causing him “intense” pain. In one attack Hollings struck her partner of three months with a hammer. In another the weapon was a hollow curtain pole. She also hit him on the top of the head with an empty ouzo bottle.
When the bottle smashed she stabbed him in the neck with jagged glass, exposing his jugular vein.
Hollings was told by the sentencing judge last year that it was a “miracle” she was not being tried for murder.
The injuries she inflicted included a displaced fracture of the left cheekbone, which required the insertion of a metal plate, and a fracture of the left eye socket.
The couple, both recovering drug addicts, had planned to marry. The assaults were carried out after Hollings’ partner failed to obtain money she had asked him to get from his relatives.
Hollings was convicted of two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, one offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one of wounding with intent.
Lord Justice Fulford said that in the court’s judgment, eight years was unduly lenient and to a “marked extent”.
Hollings, who was said to have suffered from depressive and anxiety disorders, had an “unfortunate” history, and drug-related problems, but even giving “full weight” to her mitigation there was “no escaping the grave nature of this sequence of assaults”.
The judge said the “least appropriate overall sentence” was 12 years.
In a statement after the hearing, the Solicitor General said: “The victim in this case was lucky to escape with his life.
“I brought this case to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient as the attacks with the hammer and broken bottle carried the risk of causing permanent disability or death.
“Hollings committed a series of unprovoked assaults on the victim within a 24 hour period involving the repeated use of a weapon to target a vulnerable part of the body.
“Hollings’ assault with the bottle was especially premeditated just hours after the hammer attack. The use of a sharp and pointed weapon to target the throat indicated a higher level crime. The victim suffered multiple serious injuries and significant psychological harm.”
He said the attacks “amounted to a horrendous and potentially fatal case of domestic abuse”, adding: “I am pleased the court recognised this by increasing the sentence to 12 years.”