‘He ruined my life’ - mum and daughter, 12, attacked after ‘terrifying’ abuse
- Credit: Archant
A mother-of-two whose life was 'ripped apart' by her former partner over more than a year of abuse has said she feared being killed when he also attacked her 12-year-old daughter last Christmas.
Josh Clement escaped jail on Tuesday after being convicted of two assaults - against his partner Jess Hunt and her young daughter - on December 28 last year.
And Ms Hunt said over the 18 month relationship he had slowly "picked her life apart", isolating her from friends and family.
She is urging victims of domestic abuse to open up about what is happening to them behind closed doors.
"I want people to know how terrifying it was what we went through," she said. "It got to the point both my daughters thought we were going to die."
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Ms Hunt, 32, met Clement on a dating site, and he pursued her for six months until she agreed to a date, she said.
"He moved in and everything was great," she said. "I couldn't ask for a better person. He bombarded us with gifts and presents and I couldn't fault him in any way."
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But her friends didn't like him "from day one", she said. "They could see right through him."
"Three months down the line he told me I should quit my job.
"It was like he was putting words in my head like 'I don't think you're that happy at work and you could just stay home'.
"He was completely controlling and I couldn't see it until it ended. My head was like in a fog - a complete cloud. I couldn't see all the negative controlling things he was doing but everyone else could."
After six months Ms Hunt quit her job as a lab technician and moved to Norwich with Clement from Hockering. It left her isolated.
"I literally had nobody," she said. "I had left my job for him and I had absolutely nothing. He completely ruined my life. He just ripped it apart bit by bit.
"In relationships like that it is not just about the violence but about how someone can pick you apart."
With no income, her bills started to pile up. She begged Clement for help paying her phone bill and car insurance, but he refused. She had to loan the money from her mum.
It continued that way, and Clement would "put her down" and "tell her how useless she was".
"It was like I was being punished for asking him to help me. He had put me in that situation and I was having to beg him for help."
By Christmas last year things came to a head. Clement had been in a "vile mood" and around 1am on December 28 burst into her daughter's bedroom because she was being noisy.
"He grabbed his hands around her neck and pinned her down with all his weight on her," claimed Miss Hunt. "I could see her face turning blue and she was gasping for breath."
Ms Hunt says she grabbed Clement by the hair to stop him and he grabbed her by the neck, lifting her off the floor.
"He slammed me so hard against the floor and kept his hands around my neck, and he was slamming my head off the floor."
She said she lost consciousness and when she came around could hear her eldest daughter saying 'stop it please, you're going to kill my mum'.
Clement left the room and Ms Hunt locked the door to the girl's room and told him to leave, but not before he had smashed her phone to stop her calling the police.
The police were called and Ms Hunt said she came under pressure from police and social services to press charges.
He was messaging her saying he was remorseful and would seek help, even threatening to kill himself.
But soon afterwards Ms Hunt was out in Norwich when she ran into Clement at Stadia, and he shunned her.
"That was the moment - of him humiliating me - when everything he had done to me just came to light," she said.
The next day Jess pressed charges, but Clement forced her, and her two daughters, to give evidence at court by pleading not guilty.
After the relationship ended Miss Hunt felt depressed and as if there was "no light at the end of the tunnel".
But now she has work again, as a manager at a bar, and has support from Leeway who she praised as "fantastic".
"I am absolutely terrified of getting into a new relationship," she said. "I don't want to feel like I can't trust another man because not all men are like this."
Ms Hunt's daughter, now aged 13, wrote a victim impact statement read at Norwich Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
"It still scares me to this day how he could just turn like that so quickly," she said.
"I don't see how a man like that can be walking the streets, and I worry about what he will do to his new girlfriend.
"What child wants to see her mum being hit and not being able to do anything, then he makes it feel like it was all your fault?"
Ralph Gillam, for Clement, told the court it was his first conviction.
"He regrets his actions on the day in question and he is motivated to change," he said.
Clement, 28, of Cadge Road in Norwich, was given 16 weeks in prison, suspended for two years. He was ordered to carry out 25 rehabilitation days and pay £200 in compensation to each victim.
He will pay £625 court costs and a victim surcharge of £115.
The court also imposed a restraining order for two years banning any contact with Ms Hunt or her family.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or know someone who is, Leeway can help. Call their confidential domestic abuse helpline on 0300 561 0077 for advice.