No jail for dad who strangled girlfriend
A YOUNG man who strangled the mother of his newborn child and left nail marks on her neck has been released on immediate parole in Bundaberg District Court.
Michael Carl Hewerdine pleaded guilty in Bundaberg District Court to strangulation without consent in a domestic relationship, breach of a bail condition and contravening a domestic violence order.
Crown prosecutor Erin Kelly told the court how Hewerdine, 23, and his girlfriend were arguing in the early morning of August 3.
The argument escalated and Hewerdine started verbally threatening the woman.
Ms Kelly said Hewerdine told the woman he would "throw a coffee cup" at her.
"He noted it (coffee cup) could hit the three-week-old baby," Ms Kelly said.
Hewerdine began throwing items from their bedside table at the woman, before grabbing her by the neck.
He pushed her face first onto a couch arm rest, digging in his nails.
He held her down for five seconds but she didn't lose consciousness.
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After his girlfriend got up, she picked up her phone but Hewerdine grabbed it and threw it on the ground, smashing it.
And while Ms Kelly told Judge Tony Moynihan the man's young age and lack of criminal history would be "in his favour today", she said the offence had been committed while a protection order for the victim was already in place.
"He's young, with no criminal history and made full admissions," she said.
"When police spoke with the defendant at 10am, six hours after the argument, he said they'd had an argument and he'd gripped her neck.
"He couldn't say why he did it or what he was saying at the time."
Hewerdine's defence barrister Callan Cassidy told Judge Moynihan how he had been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger's syndrome as a young child, which resulted in him having a "lack of social skills", difficulty with reading emotions, gestures and body language.
"He also suffers from obsessive compulsive traits," Mr Cassidy said.
Among that diagnosis, Mr Cassidy claimed the pressures of taking care of a newborn baby left the first-time parents "sleep deprived, exhausted and cranky" on the day of the incident.
And after Hewerdine was taken into custody by police, he spent three days behind bars.
Mr Cassidy said those three days were enough time for Hewerdine to consider his actions and "consider his life situation".
He said Hewerdine had since started going to counselling and had also enrolled in a 16-week behaviour program.
Judge Tony Moynihan sentenced Hewerdine to 18 months' imprisonment, but released him on immediate parole.
"The fact a protection order was in place favouring her is relevant ...," Judge Moynihan said.