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Gloucestershire Business News

Former councillor imprisoned partner in Stroud home

A former Lydney town councillor imprisoned his partner in her home in Stroud for more than two hours in a bid to find out the identity of the new man in her life, a court heard last week.

During the woman's frightening ordeal, Louis Arnold barricaded the front door, took the handles off windows, turned off the power to the house and threw her belongings outside the house, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

The former Labour councillor also shouted that he was looking for the bolts for a crossbow he kept in the house and that he had 'turps and a lighter, added prosecutor Giles Nelson.

The incident took place during an 'episode of domestic abuse' between Arnold, 43, of Acorn Drive, Lydney and his partner during the early hours of Sunday June 21st last year, said the prosecutor.

Six weeks before the incident, Arnold's partner had told him she had found somebody else, Mr Nelson said.

"The woman states that Arnold's moods were always up and down and he would often shout at her for no reason at all.

"Arnold, the woman and a child, attended a barbecue in Lydney on June 20th and there was visible tension between them. He would frequently make snide remarks at her and give her 'funny looks.'

"They left the event and headed back towards Stroud and when Arnold noticed the woman reacting in a particular way to a text message she received at around 1am it angered him even more on the last leg of the journey.

"On arrival the woman went straight upstairs with the child and while she was in the bathroom he shouted at her, 'Why were the other barbecue guests giving me funny looks?' after which he went back downstairs and started throwing the woman's clothing out of the house.

"He continued to shout at her and demanded that she leave immediately. She offered to leave in the morning, but Arnold was angry and barged into the child's bedroom, where the woman had found herself, and a further row ensured which escalated with Arnold demanding again that she 'get out now'.

"Arnold then went downstairs and continued throwing the woman's clothing out of the front door and after a few minutes went back upstairs for more items when he noticed that the woman was clinging on to her phone, which triggered another level of anger and he accused her of messaging 'her bloke', and warned her that he would find out who it was.

"Arnold then told her that when he found out who it was he would be dead. He then went downstairs and shouted out 'Where are my bolts?' - a reference to his crossbow, which he kept in a cupboard.

"The woman then heard Arnold ferreting around downstairs, during which time he warned her 'Somebody will die because of you,' at which point he turned off the electricity to the whole house. He again shouted at her 'I'm not going anywhere until I get answers,' and stated that 'nobody is getting in and nobody is getting out.'"

The court heard that Arnold's demeanour had changed from wanting to evict the woman to imprisoning her until he got the answers to his questions

Mr Nelson added: "Arnold then turned the electricity back on and started to hurl verbal abuse at her before turning off the power again.

"The woman contacted a female friend who advised her to call the police, which she did. Arnold was heard barricading the front door with the contents of the downstairs cupboard. The woman felt she was being trapped in the house.

"Arnold then shouted to the woman 'I have turps and a lighter here' before barging into the bedroom, where he lunged at her and grabbed her phone, during which she bit his ear.

"He demanded that she give him the password and said he would let her leave if she told him who it was.

"'I just want answers,' he demanded."

"The police arrived at the house at 4.11am but were unable to gain access due to the paraphernalia placed against the front door."

The prosecutor said that in total the woman suffered a two-hour ordeal at the hands of Arnold, who had removed the handles from the windows to prevent her exiting the house that way.

In his police interview he said that he had made an error in removing the handles and that the front door had been barricaded by accident while looking for something in the cupboard. He did not think his actions were that serious.

He stated that his feelings had festered for the previous six weeks after she had told him she had found somebody else.

In a victim statement the woman said she was grateful and relieved that she did not to have to give evidence at trial as she suffered severe anxiety from the incident.

Catherine Spedding, defending, said: "These circumstances came about due to the sad ending of their relationship, which provoked him into acting the way he did.

"He suffers from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and had tried to put the relationship back on track. He is on a lot of medication.

"When Arnold saw the police's body worn video footage he couldn't believe what he had done and wishes to apologise for his actions.

"Arnold's thought processes have improved over recent months, making his lifestyle less chaotic.

"He has provided a number of references, which shows a completely different side to Arnold.

"He has a number of issues that can easily be addressed in the community."

Arnold, a former Lydney Town councillor had denied false imprisonment of the woman until the day of his scheduled trial in April, when he pleaded guilty.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC told Arnold: "This offence of false imprisonment is very serious and merits a custodial sentence. The deprivation of somebody's liberty, no matter for how short a period of time, is distressing.

"Your behaviour was irrational, emotionally abusive and was disturbing and distressing for the victim.

"The fact your relationship was breaking down doesn't excuse your actions. At your age and maturity, you should be able to exercise greater control.

"The fact that you maintained your innocence until the day of trial means that you were testing the resolve of your victim. However, you saved her from suffering the humiliation and embarrassment of having to give her evidence in front of a jury.

"There is scope for me to suspend your 46-week prison sentence for two years."

The judge also ordered that Arnold complete 30 programme sessions and attend 18 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay £500 court costs and a victim surcharge.

The judge imposed a five-year restraining order barring Arnold from making contact with the woman by any means.

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