GB Olympic swimmer James Disney-May sentenced for GBH crime | UK | News

GB Olympic swimmer James Disney-May sentenced for GBH crime | UK | News

A former British Olympic swimmer told his fiancé to kill herself before dragging her off the edge of her 12th-floor apartment balcony with so much force that she fractured her skull.

James Disney-May, 30, who was part of the 100m freestyle relay at the London 2012 Olympics, clashed with Eleanor Cooke over a £9,000 rental bill for their £1million flat.

The city worker inadvertently caused the injuries when he pulled her over a glass balcony railing, Kingston Crown Court heard.

It is believed that during the incident on July 1 this year, she hit her head on the ground, resulting in multiple fractures to her skull and two cerebral hemorrhages.

The incident, which took place at the flat where the couple lived in the luxury Battersea Power Station in south London, left her with permanent hearing loss in her right ear.

She also suffered bruises on her face, neck and chin.

Disney-May, who attended Millfield Private School in Somerset, accepted GBH in November.

He was handed a suspended 21-month sentence with a four-month curfew at a sentencing hearing this morning.

That means he will be released from prison, where he has spent the past six months on remand.

The court heard the former swimmer had been drinking and doing drugs most nights in the months leading up to the attack – and feared losing his “very well-paid job in the city”.

Prosecutor James Lofthouse said Disney-May had a “high opinion of himself” and that he was “disparaging” to Miss Cooke even though the relationship was “largely affectionate”.

The court heard he was threatening to leave his partner, calling her “lazy, stupid, disgusting and useless” and a “problem woman”.

Mr Lofthouse said the couple went out for drinks and dinner on July 1 and returned to their flat, which belonged to Miss Cooke’s parents, around 11.30pm.

He said: “Both were in good spirits, both had been drinking. She remembered that morning leaving a note about paying the rent. Despite his means and income, they now owed their parents between £8,000 and £9,000.

“She felt that she had probably brought that up again and that was what caused him to lose his temper.

“He called her a w**e and hit her. She mentions that it was then that she decided to start an audio recording on her phone.

“What was said in those 40 minutes makes listening very difficult. In the course of the recording we say that Mr. Disney-May can hit Miss Cooke again. He mercilessly and maliciously belittled, incited, and abused them.”

The court heard him tell Miss Cooke: “You can go on holiday and jump off a bloody cliff for someone else. You can’t meet many people who want you. You’ll be dead in a week by killing yourself.

“See you later, dammit, jump off. Everyone will laugh when you jump, everyone will literally laugh when you jump. Nobody will remember you. Nobody will take care of you.”

Mr Lofthouse said it was “predictable” that Miss Cooke would react by dangling herself from her balcony as that was “just what he goaded her to do”.

Concerned neighbors heard Miss Cooke repeatedly shouting “Then should I go?” and calling 999.

When police arrived, Miss Cooke had been dragged from the balcony, leaving a trail of blood in the apartment.

On the audio recording, Disney-May can be heard asking Miss Cooke what to do if the police knock on the door, saying, “F**k it’s the police. What should we do? I won’t open it.”

When officers were finally let in, she was found lying on the bed with her hair matted with blood, the court heard.

In a statement, Miss Cooke said: “James was a trusted member of my family who my mum and dad took as one of theirs and he betrayed that trust completely.

“The incident came as an absolute shock to me. I was madly in love with James, we were engaged and I trusted him blindly. When I woke up in the hospital, I didn’t believe the hospital staff or the police who told me I was a victim of domestic violence.

“Even if I don’t remember the incident, the aftermath will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The statement added: “I’m scared of going out and meeting new people as I have paranoia about people knowing what happened and asking me questions about it. I have trust issues and I’m scared of going out alone.

“I worry about future personal relationships as I’ve lost a lot of trust in men in general.

“I think James will be a constant threat to me and my family. He comes from a very privileged background and had a very well-paid job in the city.

“This will affect his future life and I worry that he will blame me and take revenge on me and my family.

“We were in a loving relationship when this happened. If he can do that to someone he loves, I dread to think what he can do to someone he doesn’t like.”

Judge John Lodge sentenced him, saying, “He made fun of her life, he made fun of her attractiveness, he made fun of her past and he didn’t give much hope for her future.”

An injunction barring Disney-May from contacting Miss Cooke was also granted, and he was ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

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