Preston student punched and strangled pregnant woman during attack

A student from Northern Ireland who strangled a pregnant woman until she stopped breathing has been jailed for five years.

Connor Ward, 29, also punched the woman in her abdomen in the terrifying attack at his halls of residence in Moor Lane, Preston.

Ward’s terrified victim said she feared for her life as she fought her attacker off and kicked him to the floor.

She fled the flat naked apart from a coat she picked up as she left, and ran to a neighbour for help.

Ward, who was studying music production at the University of Central Lancashire, denied the attack, but was convicted of attempted GBH following a trial at Preston Crown Court.

The court heard he had been out with the woman that evening and had flown into a jealous rage when she was in bed.

He pinned her down, held her arms and put his hands to her throat, squeezing till she stopped breathing.

During the attack he repeatedly called her names and told her: “You deserve to die.”

Judge Robert Altham, sentencing, said: “To punch a pregnant woman in her abdomen is a particularly callous thing to do, but that was not the most serious part of the assault.

“You placed your hand and you squeezed. She was and must have been absolutely terrified as that happened. I have seen photos of the injuries she sustained to her throat.

“She went to hospital to be checked out for the sake of her unborn child. Thankfully she wasn’t seriously hurt.”

The judge said he took into account Ward’s serious health problems and accepted he is a kind and caring man to his fiancee, who also suffers ill health.

However he said Ward’s victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was particularly vulnerable as she was pregnant and naked at the time of the attack.

He handed ward a five year sentence and made a 10 year restraining order, banning Ward from going within 200 metres of the woman.

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