In the Media

Man leaves 'DAD' ring imprint on girlfriend's face after beating her

PUBLISHED October 18, 2012

Gemma Ford was left with a broken nose, bruising to her neck and jaw plus two black eyes when her boyfriend, Richard Mullen, tried to strangle her and then beat her.

When the police caught up withMullen, 37, the following day, they found an axe and a balaclava in the back of his car.

Mullen was sentenced to 36-weeks in jail in May but since serving around half his sentence has been released.

Now Ms Ford, a mother-of-four, has found the courage to speak out about her ordeal in order to warn other women what he is capable of.

Ms Ford said: "His sentence was disgusting, he should have got at least a couple of years, especially since he has an appalling record of domestic violence.

"I later found out that he was convicted for beating his ex with the same ring he hit me with and she still bears the scars."

In May, Lincoln Crown Court was told how lorry driver Mullen's relationship with Ms Ford, 28, had faltered after she discovered he had been texting a number of his ex girlfriends.

Ms Ford, from Skegness, broke the relationship off but, having believed Mullen's pleas of innocence, had taken him back.

In March this year, they met up and went to a barbecue together where Mullen got drunk, according to Ms Ford.

She said: "He was being loud and overly flirtatious with one of my friends from work and she told me that he was making her uncomfortable.

"I decided I was sick of his flirting. He had already broken my trust and I struggled to believe that he had only been texting those other girls. I made my mind up to end it with him when I got home."

After 13 months together, Ms Ford showed Mullen the door and then went to bed. But as she was drifting off to sleep Mullen crept in her bedroom and the next thing the young mum remembers was him sitting on top of her, squeezing her neck.

She said: "My memory is hazy as I was slipping into unconsciousness but I remember his thumbs were pressing against my windpipe and he was saying 'You b****, you're not going to wake up in the morning'.

"At first I couldn't believe what was happening but then I was terrified. I tried pleading with him but he wouldn't let go.

"My only option was to try and reason with him. I told him that if I didn't wake up in the morning he would have a dead body and four children without a mother to think about. That's when he let go and instead started kicking and punching me.

"You often hear of people saying that someone looked possessed, but in his eyes he looked like something else was making him do it to me. It was as if he had to do it, like something was forcing him.

"It was such shock to think that this man I had been in love with - and I had been completely besotted with him at one time - could be capable of doing that to me.

"I remember him hitting me with the ring and I felt it against my skull. Before he hit me again he took it off."

After the vicious attack, which Ms Ford believes lasted around 30 minutes, Mullen tried to apologise and cuddle his victim. But Ms Ford was incensed and ordered him to leave.

The next day she went to the hospital where she was told she had a broken nose for which she will need a rhinoplasty. Doctors also feared she had a broken jaw due to the amount of bruising on her face. The bruising from Mullen's sovereign ring left an outline of the word 'Dad' which was visible for weeks.

At the police station, she gave her statement and then went with friends to pick up some things from home so she could stay with them.

She said: "The police wanted to put me in a refuge but I point-blank refused. I wasn't going to do that to my children and I suppose I also didn't fully grasp how serious the situation was.

"Some male friends came with me to pick up some things and I arranged for my kids' father to have them for a few days as we share custody."

As fate would have it, just half an hour after she left for a friend's house, Ms Ford received a call from her panicked neighbour. She was told how Mullen was hammering on her door and shouting for her to come out.

She called the police who, after short car chase, arrested Mullen and made the grim discovery in his boot.

Gemma said: "I don't know what he intended to do with the axe and the balaclava but I guess he wasn't there to apologise. I hate to think what he might have been capable of.

"Perhaps he just wanted to intimidate me but after the beating I had received the night before I think he would have been capable of much worse."

Mullen was bailed but quickly broke his bail conditions by contacting Gemma. He was rearrested and held on remand for 39 days to await trial.

When Mullen was interviewed he admitted striking her several times but could not recall strangling her.

Ms Ford was unable to go to work for two weeks due to her severe bruising and lost her job as a care worker for the elderly as a result of the attack.

Since his release, she has also had to move home and change her phone number in order to avoid Mullen and claims her Facebook account was hacked from an address in Coventry, where Mullen is originally from.

Mullen, of Boston Road, Spilsby, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm on March 28 and possession of a bladed article. He was jailed for 36 weeks and was given a five year restraining order banning him from contacting Gemma or going within 25 metres of her home in Skegness.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, defending, said Mullen was remorseful for what he did.

"It seems he over reacted at being rejected."

Gemma said: "I didn't go to the court case because wrote to me from jail asking me to go. I thought the sentence was absolutely appalling, he has got off lightly.

"I think he is a damaged individual and he needs help to sort himself out.

"I hope that by reading this he knows I'm not afraid of him and I want to warn other women about what he is like and what he is capable of doing."