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Feb 26, 2014 08:57
By Natasha Adkins
Defence said James ‘Brad’ Kelley had witnessed horrifying scenes during his active service in Iraq and that although he accepted he had overreacted, perhaps his military background partly explained that reactionFormer US Army captain James Kelley was jailed for 32 months after assaulting his girlfriend Amber Coe.
Reading Crown Court heard how a former United States Army captain and his girlfriend who met while working in Afghanistan had a ‘violent and volatile’ relationship.
James ‘Brad’ Kelley, 33, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) on Amber Coe on August 18, last year, at a B&B in Sulhamstead.
Former US army captain fractured girlfriend’s skull
Yesterday at Reading Crown Court he was sentenced to 32 months’ jail for fracturing his girlfriend’s skull while the pair were on holiday in West Berkshire.
Miss Coe, also from the US military, was admitted to hospital on August 20, last year, with a fractured skull that needed surgery.
The American couple had arrived in England on August 15 for an extended holiday. On August 17, Kelley and Miss Coe checked into Field Farm Cottages in Sulhamstead.
Later that evening the couple physically fought over Kelley’s infidelity during an internship he called ‘The Rock Star Project’, the court heard. In an interview with police, Kelley said Miss Coe had come at him with a fire poker as if she was going to stab him. During a struggle Kelley pulled her hair back and her head hit the ground. During the interview he said he had not meant it to be that hard.
Then, between the evening of August 19 and the early hours of August 20, the couple argued again.
Kelley said Miss Coe, who was on antidepressants, had come at him with a smashed wine bottle before taking a knife to two teddy bears and flowers Kelley had bought her.
The defendant said Miss Coe fell from the balcony in their cottage, however the prosecution did not accept this. In the early hours of August 20, Kelley took her to Royal Berkshire Hospital slumped in his car’s footwell.
She was unconscious and was transferred to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where she remained in a coma for several days.
Kelley was arrested on the same day and charged with attempted murder – a charge he denied, which was later dropped by the prosecution and he then admitted a charge of GBH. The court heard the American couple met when they were both working as civilian contractors in Afghanistan. Kelley had described in interview his relationship with Miss Coe as violent and volatile.
Before arriving in England the couple had met up in Stockholm. On August 14 they had had another physical argument which resulted in Kelley choking Miss Coe until she lost consciousness.
Brian Lett, QC, defending, said Kelley had witnessed horrifying scenes during his active service in Iraq and that although he accepted he had overreacted, perhaps his military background partly explained that reaction.
Mr Lett continued: “It is not accepted by the defence or indeed by the victim in this case that the victim was particularly vulnerable.”
The court heard that Miss Coe had been violent in a past relationship and admitted fighting with Kelley in Stockholm.
Noel Lucas, QC, prosecuting, said Miss Coe was so “unwilling or unable” to give evidence against Kelley that they did not believe they could rely on her as a witness.
Sentencing, Judge Zoe Smith said: “It was a violent and volatile relationship which hurt each other.
“Severe force must have been used to cause the injury. You have no previous convictions but I cannot overlook the fact your going too far on this occasion and was only a few days after your going too far in Stockholm.”
Kelley was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.
Following the sentencing, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Brown said: “Victims of domestic abuse are often reluctant to involve the police and support a prosecution, however we have a duty of care to investigate and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure that justice is served and that vulnerable people are protected.
“Thames Valley Police is committed to tackling domestic abuse and we will be relentless in our pursuit of justice for victims.”