'I fell out of love with him when he left me on the floor for dead' - The brave Corby woman whose courtroom testimony put her thug ex behind bars

'He was swinging his leg in the air to get more leverage to kick me harder'

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 5:16 am
Thug Gary Slater is now behind bars

It was an unfortunate chance meeting that led to Jodie Webster getting together with the man who would later go on to push her to the ground, strangle her and leave her for dead.

"He walked past my garden, drunk, and told me I was gorgeous," she said.

"For the first three months it was a normal relationship but after four or five months he started asking me for money for drugs and draining my bank account.

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"If I didn't have money I'd get a slap around the head with a pair of flip-flops."

Her boyfriend, Gary Slater, 32, continued chipping away at Jodie over the next few months.

He called her fat and told her not to go out of the house.

Today Jodie, 41, has decided to speak out about her horrific ordeal to help other women find the strength to report their abusers.

Jodie, who is from Corby but had been living in Northampton, says she had been warned by a previous girlfriend of Gary's who texted her to tell that he was violent.

"I didn't believe her," she said.

The pair had been together for just over a year when Gary attacked her last May. He went to Jodie's house in Northampton and demanded to look in her fridge before pushing her to the ground in the garden. A friend who was there with her phoned the police.

"We were on and off from then," said Jodie. "He always knew how to talk me around."

Soon after, Jodie moved to her friend's home in Wellingborough to try to recover.

But on August 14, 2020, she returned to her home in Northampton to get ready for a night out. She turned up her music and got into the shower before preparing to go back to her friend's house in Wellingborough for their night on the town.

But Slater or one of his friends must have seen that she was back home.

"He knocked at the door and I opened it because I was expecting the taxi," said Jodie. He was stood there and asked if he could use the toilet."

Slater, a fire safety worker from Swale Drive, Kings Heath, Northampton, told Jodie he loved her but she told him to leave her alone. He stuck his foot in the door and Jodie tried to push the door away.

"I fell on my back and then he was on top of me," she said.

"He was strangling me and throwing me down.

"He was swinging his leg in the air to get more leverage to kick me harder. He was punching me and spitting on me."

Jodie estimates the attack went on for 20 minutes before he dragged her outside and left her on the pavement, unconscious.

"I fell out of love with him that day in August when he left me on the floor for dead," she said.

Slater had thrown Jodie's phone and glasses away from her to make it more difficult for her to phone for help.

She was woken by the light of a police torch shining in her face.

"I honestly thought I was dead," she said.

Before he left, Jodie says Slater had deleted messages from her phone to her friend to cover his tracks and had let out her beloved rabbit Mr Darcy who stayed beside her.

Because he denied his crimes, a three-day trial had to take place at Northampton Crown Court last week. Slater was charged with two counts of assault and two of damaging Jodie's property. Jodie had to give evidence, but was allowed to do so from behind a curtain so she didn't have to look at her attacker.

Slater denied all the charges against him and said that he simply hadn't hurt Jodie, that he hadn't been there during the August attack after which Jodie had ended up in hospital with his DNA discovered all over her upper body.

"When they put the curtain across and you can't see them it gives you so much strength," she said.

"I never doubted myself when I gave evidence. One of the jurors was upset and had to ask for five minutes when I was telling them what happened to me.

"But I didn't falter once because I knew I was telling the truth. If you go to court and tell the truth then you have nothing to worry about.

"His story was that he wasn't there and didn't do anything to me. But his DNA was on me. I know what he did."

"When I stood up in that witness box I could still remember his breath on me, and what he was wearing. I can't forget it."

Slater had said that he didn't think she'd go ahead with the case because she 'always drops the charges.' He also said he believed that Jodie still loved him.

In his summing-up to the jury, Judge Rupert Mayo said Slater had produced screenshots of messages that Jodie had sent to him between August and November. Jodie said that these messages were completely fabricated.

The jury, which deliberated for about an hour on Thursday (July 28), found Slater not guilty of the May attack and two counts of criminal damage but guilty of the terrible assault in August which left Jodie in hospital.

Judge Mayo asked prosecutors not to read out Slater's previous record of offending in open court, and Jodie's victim personal statement also went unread. Judge Mayo said that Slater had previously received custodial sentences 'on many occasions'.

There was no mitigation entered on Slater's behalf aside from the fact he had a full-time job and that he would miss his son's birthday.

Judge Mayo handed down a prison term of one year and eight months, which was above the standard sentencing guidelines.

He also imposed a restraining order banning Slater from contacting Jodie and from going within 100m of her.

Sentencing Slater, he said: "On that day you pushed your way into her home with force and pushed her to the ground and attempted to strangle her."

He will serve half of his sentence before being released to serve the remainder on licence in the community.

It took Jodie a year and lots of help from local women's services and from her supportive friends for her to feel herself again. Now she is in a happy relationship with a man who cares about her.

"I want victims to know you can do this. It's hard. The last 18 months of my life have been a roller-coaster, but I did this for myself. He said I'd always walk away and wouldn't go through with the court case but I did.

"My name has been slandered and people have been told I'm a liar, but now people know what he did to me.

"If I can help other women then that's a good outcome."

"The most important thing for me was getting a conviction," said Jodie.

"It's been one of the hardest weeks of my life but I'm just relieved he hasn't walked away a free man and that he’s going to pay for what he did for me."

Jodie credits PC Tom Weeks of Northamptonshire Police with getting her through the past year.

"He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met," she said.

"Right from the day they took the forensic photographs he's been right by my side.

"He really went above and beyond. I can never thank that man enough. He's put so much effort into this case. When I went home from hospital he was ringing me to make sure I was OK."

PC Weeks took leave from his new job to help Jodie get through the court case.

"When I came out of the court room and I fell on to my knees he picked me up," she said. "He never questioned my account, he just wanted to help.

"Everyone has different opinions on the police but all I can say is they have been brilliant."

Jodie has also been helped by the Sunflower Centre which offers non-judgemental specialist support to victims of domestic abuse in Northamptonshire.

If you need help with domestic abuse you can find out all the different ways to get in touch with Northamptonshire Police here.

You can also contact a range of support organisations, including the Sunflower Centre, here.