A managing director of a Sheffield furniture company has been found guilty of assaulting his partner in a violent row between the pair.
Stephen Hinchliffe, who runs the Traditional Furniture Company in Bamforth Street, Hillsborough, carried out an attack on his then-girlfriend Julie Sleaney at the luxury home they shared on Low Matlock Lane on Little Matlock Hamlet, Loxley, on Feburary 18 this year.
Her son Jamie, who had been upstairs at the time, had to intervene when he heard his mother scream and then saw Hinchliffe, who is 55, with both hands around her throat at the bottom of the stairs.
Hinchliffe denied a charge of assault at Sheffield Magistrates Court but was found guilty following a one-day trial.
Ms Sleaney told the court that during an earlier part of the row, Hinchliffe had dragged her off a sofa by her hair, pinned her to a wall and hit her on the side of the face ‘eight or nine times’.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
“I was petrified.”
Her son Jamie, who is in his early 20s, said the pair had been having a noisy row downstairs while he was in his bedroom, something he said was common between the pair.
He said he had intervened after hearing his mother scream and first saw Hinchliffe standing over his mother, who was on the floor.
Jamie said he got Hinchliffe away and took his mother into the kitchen.
“She was in floods of tears, crying her eyes out - I had never seen her like that before,” he said.
He said he suggested the best option would be for them both to leave the house and took her upstairs to her bedroom.
Jamie said he went outside to have a cigarette before leaving and when he went back into the property, things had got ‘more aggressive’.
“He dragged her downstairs. He had her at the bottom of the stairs with his hands around her throat. She was in floods of tears,” he said.
“I tried to get him away. He pushed me out the way and just went into the kitchen.”
Jamie said he was ‘disappointed’ in Hinchliffe for the attack, who he previously viewed as a father figure.
“I looked up to him as a dad. But I was just trying to protect my mum,” he said.
Hinchliffe admitted there had been a row between the pair for around two hours relating to ongoing relationship problems. The pair had previously been together for around 15 years and both had children from previous relationships.
But he denied hitting Ms Sleaney and said the only physical contact he had with his then-partner was ‘just enough to restrain’ her.
Hinchliffe said Ms Sleaney had scratched his face and his glasses had been broken in the course of the argument.
He said Jamie had only intervened right at ‘the very last moment’.
Hinchliffe said: “He got hold of me and tried to pull me back and just pushed me away.”
Magistrates said they were finding Hinchliffe guilty on the basis of Jamie’s evidence and ‘believed him when he said he saw Stephen Hinchliffe pull her down the stairs and place his hands around her throat’.
There had been no visible injuries to Ms Sleaney and magistrates said they accepted medical evidence for the defence which suggested this meant no ‘substantial force’ had been used. But they added the victim had been ‘very frightened’ during the incident.
Hinchliffe was due to be sentenced on August 10, but his return to Magistrates Court was moved to August 24 due to him being away on a three-week family holiday in Venezuela on the original date.