A 30-year-old Southampton woman who admitted sending death threats to her former boyfriend, was given a suspended sentence of 12 months on Monday.
The case of Loreesa Burchall was heard in the Supreme Court, where Karen King, for the Crown, said she threatened to shoot lawyer Kamal Worrell and slash his throat in a series of messages sent between December 2018 and January last year.
The court heard that Burchall and Mr Worrell were in a relationship for several years, but split up in 2018.
Mr Worrell received an e-mail from Burchall in which she threatened to “blow his brains out” on December 18 that year.
She also threatened to shoot him in the head with a 9mm handgun in another e-mail sent the next day.
Burchall also threatened to cut Mr Worrell’s throat and said she would “smoke a spliff” as she watched him die in other messages sent in January 2019.
She admitted three counts of sending death threats and three counts of improper use of public communications when she was arrested.
The Crown called for a sentence between 12 months and 18 months.
But Charles Richardson, who appeared for Burchall, told the court that his client was trying to distance herself from an abusive relationship.
“The messages that she sent to him have to be seen in context.”
He also read an excerpt of the first threatening e-mail, in which Burchall alleged past abuse and asked Mr Worrell to “end this cycle of pain”.
She wrote: “The next time you hurt a female in any way, shape or form, rest assured I will feel it and I will come to your house or wherever you are and blow your brains out.”
Mr Richardson also noted that his client had stated in a social inquiry report interview that she had gone through years of psychological, physical and emotional abuse, and believed Mr Worrell would use the courts to protect himself.
“He is still using the system to beat her because she stood up for herself,” said Mr Richardson, who accepted that the starting sentence for death threats would be a year.
But he said the circumstances of this case warrants a non-custodial sentence and that he was prepared to take the case to a Newton hearing – where evidence is called to determine the severity of an offence – if the court needed more details on the context.
Puisne Judge Craig Attridge said a Newton hearing was not needed because there was no significant dispute between the facts outlined by both the Crown and the defence.
The defendant said she regretted her actions and urged the court not to send her to jail.
Justice Attridge considered the alleged abuse but he said the offences were serious and required a deterrent.
He sentenced Burchall to 12 months in prison for the three murder-threat offences and three months each on the counts of improper use of public communications, to run concurrently.
Based on the circumstances of this case, he suspended the sentence for a year.