Ex-soldier was caught strangling woman when police burst in

Christopher Burgess had previously been an informal carer for the woman when he assaulted her in her Edinburgh home.

Ex-soldier was caught strangling woman when police burst in STV News

A former soldier who was strangling a victim when police burst in told officers he was helping her with her post-traumatic stress disorder.

Christopher Burgess claimed that he was only using reasonable force to try stop the victim inflicting self-harm.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that two constables who went to the aid of the woman found her “face was an extreme deep purple colour, clammy and with profusely bulging eyes and dark blue lips”.

Burgess, 38, had acted as informal carer for the victim who confirmed that he suffered from PTSD and could have sudden and dramatic mood swings.

Advocate depute Derick Nelson said: “She describes a situation where ‘most of the time he is absolutely fine’.”

But every now and then he would have a “PTSD freak out” usually caused by alcohol and would go to what he called the ‘sandpit’.

Mr Nelson said: “He was formerly in the Black Watch and in this state, he believes the complainer is an enemy combatant.”

Burgess turned up at her home in Lauriston Street, in Edinburgh, in November last year despite being freed on bail from the city’s sheriff court days earlier on a condition that he did not approach the victim or enter her home street.

He arrived at the flat suffering from a head injury and passed out in the living room. The following morning another carer arrived and they managed to get Burgess up but he was “acting weird”.

That evening Burgess and his victim were drinking Southern Comfort and watching television in the living room.

Mr Nelson said: “The next thing she realised was that he was on top of her, strangling her, using his thumb to press at a certain point on her neck repeatedly, then letting go right at the moment she was about to pass out.”

The prosecutor said the victim was screaming for someone to call the police and managed to get away and left the flat.

But she was poorly dressed for the weather and got very cold and returned to the front door of the building where she met Burgess, who seemed to be his normal self.

They went back into the flat but Burgess attacked again. Mr Nelson said: “Within seconds the accused had flipped back into the ‘sandpit’ and began to pull her hair and strangle her.”

“He was on top of her, pressing his thumb against her throat. She was screaming, ‘Call the police please. He’s going to kill me’,” said the prosecutor.

“Moments later, she heard the police outside the door and shouted out to them. Police officers burst in, finding Burgess still on top of her,” he said. 

The court heard two constables had attended at the flats after reports were received of a male shouting aggressively at a female who was calling for help.

When the officers got into the flat the victim said: “He’s trying to kill me” and “He’s strangling me.”

Burgess was arrested and stated: “It’s been blown out of all proportion. I was helping her with her PTSD.”

Paramedics found the victim had deep bruising on the jawline and to both sides of her neck.

Burgess, of no fixed abode, admitted that on November 20 and 21 last year at the flat in Lauriston Street he assaulted the woman, seized them by the hair, held them down on a mattress and repeatedly put his hands around their neck and restricted the victim’s breathing to their injury and danger of life.

Defence counsel Susan Duff told the court that Burgess had no recollection of events on the night of the attack.

The judge, Lord Harrower, deferred sentence on Burgess, who is currently in prison in Edinburgh, until next month for the preparation of a background report.

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