Beds, Herts & Bucks

John McAleer guilty of throwing Danielle Hammond over balcony

Danielle Hammond Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Danielle Hammond did not give evidence because of her injuries

A man who threw his girlfriend off the balcony of a fourth floor flat leaving her with severe injuries has been found guilty of attempted murder.

John McAleer, 24, had denied trying to kill Danielle Hammond, 21, at a flat in Hemel Hempstead in June.

St Albans Crown Court heard the defendant, of Belsize Road, was seen pushing up his girlfriend's leg before she went over the railings.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in January.

Judge Marie Catterson ordered probation and psychiatric reports to be carried out, telling McAleer, who was convicted by a majority of 11 to one, it was a "very serious offence that can only be met with a substantial sentence of imprisonment".

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Ms Hammond fell from the balcony of the fourth-floor flat of Lord Alexander House

Ms Hammond fell 45ft (14m) from the flat at Lord Alexander House and landed in bushes and on a manhole cover.

She survived the fall, but her skull was fractured and she had bleeding around the brain.

She also suffered major trauma to her abdominal organs, her wrists were broken and her hearing and speech have been impaired.

Ms Hammond has since been discharged from hospital and is walking independently, but has no memory of what happened.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption John McAleer had told the trial he "stumbled into" Danielle Hammond

The jury heard that in the early hours of 30 June the couple were on the balcony at the defendant's sister's flat following a confrontation in the hallway.

Prosecutor Ann Evans said the couple's friend Jake Hulse saw the defendant coming back into the flat, but "suddenly spin round" towards his girlfriend.

She said: "Danielle appeared to raise her right leg up in front of herself like she was trying to protect herself. As he walked towards her, he grabbed her leg, pushed it up and threw her over the balcony."

Image copyright SBNA
Image caption A friend of the couple said he saw McAleer throw Ms Hammond over the balcony

After Mr Hulse confronted McAleer, Mrs Evans said the defendant "went into hysterics, screaming 'Danielle's fallen' and ran into a bedroom to tell the others."

McAleer had told the trial he had "stumbled into" his girlfriend before she fell.

In the witness box, McAleer accepted the couple had rows, but told the court: "I loved her to bits, I love her to bits".

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