A former soldier described as a ‘highly dangerous man’ has been jailed for a series of ‘horrendous’ assaults on his 19-year-old Chester girlfriend.
Lee Andrew Sorrentino, of Northop Road, Flint, was sentenced to five years in prison when he appeared at Chester Crown Court on Thursday (September 22).
The 33-year-old, who served as a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan before being discharged in 2005 after suffering from anxiety, was arrested in April and charged with six counts of ABH and assault by beating his 19-year-old girlfriend from Hatton Heath.
James Coutts, prosecuting, told the court it was only after the sixth attack in April, when Sorrentino punched his victim in the face, leaving her with a black eye, she ‘drew up the courage to contact the police’.
Dreamed of cheating
He described how, on a separate occasion, Sorrentino had also woken up in the middle of the night after dreaming she had been cheating on him and punched her in the head and twisted her arm, leaving her with a significant injury after she had denied the allegations made against her.
Mr Coutts told the court on another occasion, Sorrentino had ‘grabbed the victim by the neck and choked her to shut her up’.
“He was very controlling and stopped her spending time with her friends,” he said.
“He dictated her life as much as he could and made her change the way she made contact with her family - her mother was only able to contact her by telephone when he was in work.
Threats to family
“The reality of this case is that she did not leave him over the course of the relationship because she was terrified about what he would do not only to her but to other members of her family.”
Mr Coutts said between the months of April and May while Sorrentino was in remand, he wrote a number of letters to the victim’s home and work address, begging for her to drop charges made against him.
He told her he ‘could go home’ and it ‘would just be over’ if charges were dropped so they could go on holiday together.
“If not for the strong family network around her, she may have gone along with it,” Mr Coutts added.
Sorrentino was also sentenced for witness intimidation.
In a statement read to the court, the victim’s mother said as a result of the abuse her daughter had suffered, she became ‘unrecognisable’ from the bubbly teenager she had always been.
She told the court he had done a ‘very good job of brainwashing her’ and how she now had difficulty breathing and suffers with night terrors.
“She will find peace one day and get her confidence back,” she said.
“She told me she feels as though she has lost her identity, but we reassure her daily this will return. It will certainly take time to get over what has been a very stressful time for her.”
The victim’s mother, who tried hard to hold her tears back, told the court she found it very difficult to explain to her younger daughter what was going on while her sister was living with Sorrentino.
“She asked me “Is she still my sister?” and in her letter to Santa, she asked for no presents - she just asked to have her sister home.
“It is a massive relief for us all that he is locked up and unable to get to [my daughter].
“It is a great sadness that she’s had to go through this horrendous experience. She believed his threats, she was scared for her own safety.
“It is horrific to say the least but we’re all moving forward as a family now.”
'Big strong man'
His Honour Judge Steven Everett described Sorrentino as a ‘big strong man’ who ‘intended to cause more serious harm than he actually did’.
“He is a dangerous and manipulative man who is definitely at risk of re-offending and causing serious harm - I find it rather chilling that he says he still loves her.
“These are the most brazen set of incidents I have seen in a long time. She was very brave to call the police - she did the right thing.
“He has no understanding of what he did and his letters, which intended to pervert the course of public justice, clearly show that - he is a highly dangerous man.”
The judge described domestic violence as the ‘semi-hidden evils’ and one of the ‘hidden blights’ of our society.
Sorrentino has previous convictions for intent to supply class A drugs, ABH and battery.
The judge also imposed a restraining order on the victim’s home address in Hatton Heath, Chester.