Assault over mum's ashes

IN a gripping tale of love, loss and longing, a man strangled his former lover until she blacked out because she wouldn’t return his dead mother’s ashes.

The rash act will see Shawn Colin Crawford spend nine months behind bars, after he pleaded guilty in the Gladstone District Court on Tuesday to assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of wilful damage.

While Mr Crawford did not deny an assault of a female took place on the night, his version of events conflicted with the victim’s.

Crown prosecutor Shaun Gordon told the court the assault took place on May 5, 2009, at the Gladstone Marina, where the defendant lived on a fishing boat.

The victim had been in a two-year relationship with Crawford.

The court heard the defendant began texting the victim late in the evening and wanted to meet on his work boat to discuss their relationship .

“The (woman) went to the commercial fishing boat and an argument took place in the cabin,” Mr Gordon said.

“She went to leave and the defendant puts both hands around her neck from behind and she soon fell to the ground unconscious.”

The victim regained consciousness a short time later, got to her feet and fled.

She was attempting to leave in her vehicle when the defendant approached with clenched fists and punched the windscreen.

Police attended and were unable to find the defendant.

Barrister David Murray, instructed by Kenny and Partners, told the court his client claimed the assault occurred by the victim’s car.

Mr Murray said the couple had met the day Mr Crawford was released from prison several years ago, when he employed the services of a prostitute on his first night of freedom.

The prostitute phoned the next day to say Mr Crawford had overpaid, and invited him to meet privately. A relationship blossomed, the couple sharing a house near Bundaberg for several years.

During that time, Mr Crawford’s mother passed away and he was given a share of her ashes, which were kept in a glass cabinet.

The relationship crumbled and the ashes were not returned, leading to the animosity Mr Crawford had towards his ex-lover.

“He’d asked many times for the ashes back and had been refused,” Mr Murray said.

Mr Murray said his client denied sending the texts and did not know his ex was coming to the boat.

“She refused to leave the boat, so my client left and was walking up the gangway to the pub.”

Mr Crawford said he heard a vehicle behind him, turned and it was heading his way. He punched the windscreen and the woman got out of the car.

Mr Murray said his client told the victim if she didn’t give back his mother’s remains, he would kill her.

“He put pressure on her throat and eased her down by the car, then left the scene,” Mr Murray said.

Judge Irwin said the defendant’s actions were deliberate and very serious.

“She was absolutely terrified and thought it could have been the end of her life when she blacked out.”

A sentence of 27 months imprisonment was set, with a parole date of December 22, and a conviction was recorded.

The court did not hear if Mr Crawford’s mother’s ashes were returned to him.

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