The pair, who it is said had and “on-off relationship”, exchanged text messages on Valentine’s Day and following the exchange, Ms Sandlin agreed to go to Price’s family home. Price was drunk and shortly after the pair went to bed, he “went too far” and began pulling her hair and biting her neck. Additionally he grabbed her around the neck and began to choke her. She got up from the bed and began to cry; Price hugged her and persuaded her to return to bed. However once back in bed, Price bit Ms Sandlin on the thigh and bottom, leaving a large bruise. Both accepted that their relationship was purely physical.
Ms Sandlin left Price’s home at 4.30am and contacted the police.
When interviewed, Price said that he was not out of control and that Ms Sandlin had been moaning and enjoying herself, claiming that he had bitten her on the bottom in an attempt to cheer her up and turn her on.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Sandlin said that since the assault she has had trouble sleeping and her trust in men had been damaged. She had also been off work with stress.
Ms Sandlin said: ‘I trusted someone I should not have trusted…He was very drunk, blind drunk. He completely overstepped the mark. I was shocked.’
Price said: ‘I really can’t believe it would go so far as to get to court…Of course I apologise to Elizabeth.’
Magistrates convicted Price of common assault (in the form of a battery).
The starting point is – as usual – the sentencing guidelines (see p.23). This is not a case of greater harm (a bruise not being “serious injury in the context of the offence”) – however arguably it could be said it was a repeated assault. In reality, this case probably does not fit within the guidelines very neatly.
The magistrates imposed a 12-month community order with 40 hours unpaid work. In addition they imposed a compensation order of £200 and costs of £850.
Whilst an unusual set of circumstances, it is clear that an offence has been committed and that punishment is required. Induced by drink, Price went too far with his sexual antics, seemingly not acting upon Ms Sandlin’s indications and requests to cease the “rough” sex. Though the guidelines don’t neatly apply, the sentence imposed here appears to be proportionate.
There is a lack of direct intent to cause harm, the encounter began as consensual sexual intercourse, he has no convictions and (despite apparently pleading not guilty) appears to be somewhat remorseful. A community order with 40 hours unpaid work is at the very bottom of the scale, and so the magistrates’ clearly thought that, while some punishment was required, it did not need to be significant or particularly onerous.
The minor injuries don’t require a custodial sentence and perhaps the “shock” of the court proceedings and a conviction will make Mr Price think twice in future before engaging in “rough” sex without first discussing fully with his sexual partner the limits of what they are about to engage in.