Axminster farmer jailed for assaulting ex-girlfriend

James Bull. Picture DCP

James Bull. Picture DCP - Credit: Archant

An Axminster farmer has been jailed for throwing his ex-girlfriend into a stream when she tried to help police catch him during a chase on foot.

Exeter Crown Court heard that James Bull ran away from police when they tried to arrest him for breaking a non-molestation order and attacked his victim when she stood in his way.

He deliberately barged her off a path into the brook by the side of the road and later told police ‘it was hilarious. I ran away laughing’.

Bull had already broken the court order to stay away from the centre of Hemyock twice before and police were called again when he was seen in the Catherine Wheel pub.

He fled through the back door as the police came in the front and they chased him through the village but failed to catch him.

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His victim suffered severe bruising and grazing to her legs and hip in the fall and needed X-rays in hospital to confirm she had not suffered a serious knee injury.

Bull managed to dodge the police for another six months and they issued a public appeal to trace him before they finally caught up with him in January this year.

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He has been remanded in custody at Exeter Prison since January 31 and friends have been looking after the farm animals and four dogs at his smallholding.

Bull, aged 31, of Colston, near Axminster, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and three breaches of a non-molestation order and was jailed for eight-and-a-half months by Judge David Evans.

He imposed a new restraining order which bans any further contact and excludes him from a large area of Hemyock but allows access to fields he owns nearby.

The judge told him:”You don’t simply defy court orders, let alone on three occasions, as you did. The seriousness of the assault was increased very significantly by the fact that you were in Hemyock in breach of the order.”

Hollie Gilbery, defending, said Bull has already spent the equivalent of a ten-month sentence in jail on remand. He has been worried about his smallholding, his animals, and his four dogs throughout that time. She said he now appreciates that court orders must be obeyed but his judgment at the time was clouded by a sense of injustice at being excluded from the village which he sees as being his home.

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