Newarthill man who ‘waterboarded’ his partner is jailed for three years

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A Newarthill man has been jailed for three years after putting his partner through a terrifying ‘waterboarding’ experience.

Melissa Murray said she fought for her life as Matthew McKenna put a soaking towel over her face then sprayed her with a shower head.

McKenna (29) of Melfort Quadrant was found guilty of assault to danger of life after a trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Ms Murray (28) said she didn’t know what waterboarding - a form of torture which has been used by the CIA - was before McKenna warned her she was about to “experience something I’d never experienced before”.

The attack happened at her flat in Angus Walk, Tannochside, on April 7 last year.

Jailing McKenna, Sheriff David Bicket told him: “I take account of the fact your criminal record has tailed off, but I must also take into account the terrifying ordeal you put Ms Murray through.”

Ms Murray said they had been at a nightclub with another couple. McKenna got drunk and towards the end of the night was “raging” at her.

They went back to the flat separately and she was in the bathroom when he came in behind her.

Ms Murray told prosecutor Vish Kathuria: “He put on the taps in the sink and soaked a towel.

“He said I was about to experience something I’d never experienced before and asked if I knew what waterboarding was. I didn’t.

“I tried to get out, but he grabbed me by the hair and tried to push me into the bathtub. I don’t know how I stopped him, but I wasn’t going in there.

“He punched me and pinned me to the floor. He put the towel on my head and ran water from the shower head over it. My nose and mouth were covered.

“I was gasping for breath and he stopped. Then he did it again. It probably lasted 30 or 40 seconds, but it felt like ages. He did it three times.

“I was saying ‘Please, please, please’ and telling him our wee boy needed me. I think that’s the only reason he let me go.

“I tried to get up and he kicked me. He said ‘Go’ and I ran down to a neighbour’s flat. I was soaked and distressed.”

Ms Murray said she had a “shooting pain” in her ear after the assault and discovered later she had a perforated eardrum. She also had bruising to her face and arms, and cracked or bruised ribs.

She added: “I thought he was going to kill me that night.

“If it was not for our wee boy, he probably would have.”

McKenna denied the assault, but the jury took just an hour to find him guilty of the attack and of shouting abuse and threats at the 30s Nightclub in Main Street, Coatbridge.

At the sentencing hearing, defence agent Ian Scott said McKenna had been assessed as suitable for a community payback order, including unpaid work, but was “realistic” about the outcome of the case.

McKenna has a previous conviction for a domestic offence, but Mr Scott pointed out that he had not been in trouble for six years apart from the current case.

The lawyer added: “He says he has been attending a domestic violence groupwork programme while in prison awaiting sentence.”

Sheriff Bicket told McKenna the assault on Ms Murray was “most serious” and could be dealt with only by a jail sentence.

The sheriff also imposed a non-harassment order which bans the accused from any contact with the victim for four years.