Semi-pro footballer Damien Stevens from Ashington in court for controlling and coercive behaviour

A semi-pro footballer who left his girlfriend with a £10,000 bill to fix her disfigured nose after months of sickening domestic abuse could avoid being locked up.
Damien Stevens will return to Newcastle Crown Court in July to be sentenced.Damien Stevens will return to Newcastle Crown Court in July to be sentenced.
Damien Stevens will return to Newcastle Crown Court in July to be sentenced.

Damien Stevens left his victim unconscious in the bath, broke her nose while she was driving and his brutal behaviour made her quit her job as a nursery teacher.

Newcastle Crown Court heard her shocking, year-long ordeal was not reported until after they split up in February this year, as she had "thought she was in love with him" and did not want to see him in trouble.

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Now, the formerly "vibrant and happy" woman has been left a "shell of a person" and admitted in a statement: "I am frightened of him."

She said Stevens had had a "grave impact" on her life through the violence and name-calling, left her with nightmares and added: "He always knew exactly what to say to humiliate me.

"There is long-term damage to my nose but the NHS is unable to fund the procedure required to repair it. I can either live with the injury, making me feel extremely self conscious as it is, or pay for the procedure at the cost of between £5,000-£10,000.

"I cannot afford such an expense therefore will have to live with this injury, which is a constant reminder."

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The woman said she left her teaching career as she could not continue to attend school with injuries, needing to take time off and struggling with work that needed to be done at home as "he demanded all of my time".

Stevens has played for a number of non-league clubs, including Ashington AFC, Marske United, Ryton, Crawcrook Albion and Newcastle Blue Star.

More recently, he had been turning out for Seaham Red Star in Division One of the Ebac Northern League.

The 31-year-old, of Rosalind Street in Ashington, who has previous convictions for harassment and common assault on other victims, admitted controlling and coercive behaviour and criminal damage and faced a prison term.

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But Mr Recorder Mark Guiliani, who told Stevens he faced a jail sentence with a starting point of 30 months, deferred the case until July and gave him a chance to co-operate with the probation service, save up compensation cash of at least £1,500 and commit no further offences, including domestic violence.

However, Stevens was issued with a lifelong restraining order to keep him away from his ex.

Prosecutor Kate Barnes described a lengthy list of incidents, in which she said Stevens:

- In February 2021, arrived home drunk and smashed photographs of them both and damaged her fridge;

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- In March 2021 he pulled her television from the wall and smashed it on the floor;

- In April 2021 he threw her mobile phone towards her head while she was in bed;

- In July 2021 he smashed her phone while "kicking off" and she had to call two friends to help her.

In September 2021 Stevens had been chatting to the woman while she was in the bath. Miss Barnes told the court: "He took her mobile phone off her and tried to throw it in the bath then tried to hit her with a towel.

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"He struck her hard with a towel, causing her to fling her head back and bang it against the side of the bath, causing her to become unconscious. The next thing she remembers is choking on the bath water."

Five days after the bath attack, Stevens pushed the victim on the floor and threw a bag full of rubbish, including broken glass, at her.

Nine days after that he threw a bottle of lemonade, which hit the victim on the head then put his hands around her throat and squeezed until she was left with red marks.

The following day he punched her and pushed her over.

Two days after that he dragged her off the bed and pushed her on the ground, and in October 2021 he hit her in the face and left her with swollen eyes and a bruised lip, and spat at her.

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In November 2021 Stevens picked the woman up from the airport and the court heard it appeared to the victim that he was drunk.

They were stopped by police and although Stevens was not breathalised, the victim took over driving. Miss Barnes said: "As she drove the defendant pulled on the handbrake, causing her to brake hard. He kept punching her with a clenched fist, towards her head and body, causing a great deal of pain.

"He struck her with the heel of his hand in the face.”

The victim went to the RVI and was transferred to Freeman with a suspected broken nose. She was told that because of cuts in funding, she would have to pay for corrective surgery herself.Shaun Routledge, defending, said Stevens, who makes £150 per football game, was going in the "right direction" and would like to continue to make progress.He added the offences were "nasty and mean".