Insurance executive, 62, lifted girlfriend onto her tiptoes by the throat during violent row


A City insurance executive lifted his ‘petrified’ girlfriend onto her tiptoes by the throat during a violent row at their £1.6m west London flat, a court heard.

Howard James Burnell, 62, was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Mary Phillips in the doorway of his flat in Little Green, Richmond, where they both lived, after a dinner date on March 14.

The court heard how he inflicted bruising to the throat and thigh of Ms Phillips by grabbing her by the throat and her leg was slammed in the doorway in an attempt to bar her from entering. 

Pictures of the injuries were shown during the trial at Wimbledon Magistrates Court.

Howard James Burnell, 62, (pictured right), a City insurance executive, was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Mary Phillips after a dinner date on March 14

Mr Burnell, Head of Marine & Energy Liability with Bishopsgate-based insurance giants Apollo, was convicted of assault and was bailed until sentencing on January 28, next year.

Ms Phillips addressed the court from behind a screen and told the trial how the pair had enjoyed a restaurant meal earlier that evening.  

‘We shared one bottle of wine, but Mr. Burnell likes his alcohol so it could have been two,’ she said.

While travelling home the couple rowed, with Burnell telling his partner of seven years: “You have crossed the line”.

He stormed off ahead, shutting Ms Phillips out of their shared home, which he owns. 

‘He positioned himself in the doorway,’ she said.

‘He said: “You insulted my parents,” and was very aggressive, more than usual. He was red, his eyes were evil-looking. The hatred.

The court heard how he inflicted bruising to the throat and thigh of Ms Phillips by grabbing her by the throat and her leg was slammed in the doorway of his flat in Little Green, Richmond, where they both lived, in an attempt to bar her from entering (Google maps image)

 The court heard how he inflicted bruising to the throat and thigh of Ms Phillips by grabbing her by the throat and her leg was slammed in the doorway of his flat in Little Green, Richmond, where they both lived, in an attempt to bar her from entering (Google maps image)

Ms Phillips (pictured) addressed the court from behind a screen and told the trial how the pair had enjoyed a restaurant meal earlier that evening. She said: 'His hand came up and grabbed my throat and I was lifted up on to my tiptoes and was in sheer fear'

Ms Phillips (pictured) addressed the court from behind a screen and told the trial how the pair had enjoyed a restaurant meal earlier that evening. She said: ‘His hand came up and grabbed my throat and I was lifted up on to my tiptoes and was in sheer fear’

‘I tried to push him and thought if I could get in I could defuse the situation, but he was quite adamant that I was not coming in.

‘His hand came up and grabbed my throat and I was lifted up on to my tiptoes and was in sheer fear.

‘I thought he was going to headbutt me. I was absolutely petrified.

‘He also used the door to bar my way and that bruised all of my leg and the bruise was under my jaw for a week and my neck was painful.’

Burnell denied throttling his ex-partner, suggesting she may have sustained injuries as she tried to barge her way into the flat against his wishes.

‘I said I did not want her to come in and she tried to force her way in,’ he told the court. 

‘She was putting her leg in and trying to push me back, it was a bit off a stand-off.

‘I held her back when she was pushing herself in. I assume the bruising to her leg was caused by the door.

‘She was trying to knock my arm and as she was pushing she pushed against my hand, which rode up to her jaw, I think.’

Wimbledon Magistrates Court (pictured) heard how he inflicted bruising to the throat and thigh of Ms Phillips during a violent row in an attempt to bar her from entering the flat. Burnell denied throttling his ex-partner. He was convicted of assault and was bailed until sentencing on January 28, next year

Wimbledon Magistrates Court (pictured) heard how he inflicted bruising to the throat and thigh of Ms Phillips during a violent row in an attempt to bar her from entering the flat. Burnell denied throttling his ex-partner. He was convicted of assault and was bailed until sentencing on January 28, next year

Eventually Burnell allowed Mary in on condition she took a cab to her daughter’s home in Elephant and Castle.

District Judge Andrew Sweet announced: ‘She lived there for six to seven years. It was her home too.

‘She said she was lifted up by her throat and her leg was bruised by the door being pushed against it.

‘She found herself in a situation where she was being prevented from accessing where she lived and I accept she was assaulted by Mr. Burnell by grabbing her throat and pushing the door.’

Bailing Burnell for an ‘all options’ pre-sentence report the judge added: ‘To try to exclude her from somewhere she lived for six to seven years is something I am entitled to take into account.

‘I need a report so I can decide how to sentence.’

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