A former policeman has been jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of repeatedly punching his pregnant ex-girlfriend to try to bring on a miscarriage.
Matthew Cherry used a balaclava and a fake foreign accent to launch the “savage attack” at Caroline Craft’s ground-floor flat in Bournemouth, Dorset.
The 35-year-old shook his head and burst into tears as the jury delivered its unanimous verdict after more than seven hours of deliberation.
He punched Miss Craft in the stomach and back, targeting her unborn child and leaving her “bloodied and bruised”, but she was not seriously harmed and gave birth to a boy – now 15 months old.
In a statement released after the verdict, Miss Craft said: “The past 18 months have been a living hell. The actions of Matthew Cherry on that day were callous, cold-hearted and utterly selfish.
“I will never forgive him for what he did to me and what he so nearly could have done to my baby. I thank God that despite Matthew Cherry’s efforts, my beautiful son, Archie, was born healthy and unharmed by his actions.”
In sentencing, Judge Keith Cutler told Cherry: “It was a pernicious and evil attack. On your part, there was a high degree of planning.
“It was clear that you used your skills and training as a police officer to ensure your phone was left to give yourself an alibi and you masked your appearance.”
Cherry looked likely to faint in the dock and he kept saying: “I didn’t do it,” as the judge told him he made one mistake by not disposing of an empty box that had contained trainers that left a footprint at the scene.
He told Cherry he had now lost his career, his future and his liberty by his “appalling” actions that had thankfully not led to serious harm to Miss Craft or the baby.
Cherry was angry and upset that Miss Craft, 27, also a police officer, would not have an abortion and the pair split up, Winchester Crown Court heard during the eight-day trial.
Cherry, now living in Southampton, denied attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent in March last year in the “well-planned” attack.
He had insisted he was not the attacker, claiming he was several miles away renovating a house.
The jury heard that Miss Craft was six months pregnant when she answered the door to a masked attacker on March 24, thinking it was an estate agent that had come to view her flat.
Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, said: “She was … attacked with multiple punches to her stomach and back, in a way which targeted her unborn child. She shouted for help and a gloved hand was placed over her mouth. She was also kicked.
“She pointed out valuable items in case this was a robbery or burglary but her attacker showed no interest in taking anything. She was dragged into the bathroom and forced to sit on the toilet.
“The male said he would tie her up. She was absolutely terrified about what was happening to her in her own home.”
The attack only ended because the estate agent turned up and Cherry fled, using a back door as he knew the block well and had owned the flat before selling it to Miss Craft.
Cherry was linked to the crime by a jigsaw puzzle of evidence that presented a “compelling picture” that he was the attacker who carried out the “savage attack” and the jury of five women and seven men agreed.
He had told Miss Craft and her flatmate Carla Hutchings that he had thought about punching her in the stomach to cause a miscarriage. He had even discussed with a police colleague how to bring on a miscarriage.
Cherry, who resigned from Dorset Police in November last year, was “forensically aware” and had used his police experience to try to avoid detection, the court heard.