A radio presenter was strangled by her ex son-in-law after he came to stay with her while detoxing from heroin, a court heard.
Annette Martens, 73, had been giving McDara Bardon, 48, ’emotional and financial support’ for 25 years following his divorce from her daughter. He stayed at her home in Ramsbottom around four times a week, Minshull Street Crown Court was told.
On June 4 2019, he arrived at her home at 7pm and asked to stay while he detoxed from drugs. Once inside, he accused her of calling him a rapist and grabbed her by the throat with both hands, prosecutor Eleanor Gleeson said.
She continued: ‘[He] was frothing at the mouth, raging and shouting. He was holding her throat for 30 seconds and she passed out. She was forced to the floor but managed to recover and tried to get to the car to escape. Upon leaving the property she screamed to attract the attention of neighbours.
‘He pulled her back into the property by the hair and threw her onto the bed. 10 seconds later he ran angrily into the bedroom calling her a w***e. He grabbed her by the throat and squeezed her hard.
‘In an impact statement she said she could feel herself stop breathing and that she thought she was going to die and was crying “help me, help me”. He then loosened his grip and left the room before packing his belongings and telling her to drop him off at Bury tram stop, which she did.
‘She then drove to host a radio show where colleagues noticed she was upset and bruised. They told her to call police and she then drove to Bury police station. Photographs were taken of the injuries in which she had bad bruising on her neck, hand and wrists.’
Ms Martens, a former church missionary, was a volunteer presenter for the Roch Valley Radio based at Fairfield Hospital in Bury. She died two weeks after the assault, but the court heard there was ‘no circumstantial evidence’ linking the events together.
In a statement to police before her death, she said: ‘Over the years I have felt bullied and controlled both verbally and physically by him. I am 73 and do not deserve this. I have had two heart attacks in the past and this is not helping. I want him to get help and believe he needs it.’
Bardon was arrested on June 8. The court heard he had 36 previous offences on his record, including an assault from 2008, and he was sentenced to a 12 month community order.
Judge Maurice Greene told him: ‘This was a nasty and mean assault on somebody who had been supportive of you. At the time of this incident you were clearly under the influence of alcohol and drugs and were detoxing from heroin. You lost control of yourself on two occasions for no reason at all.
‘You called her extremely unpleasant names and she thought she was going to die as she cried “help me, help me”. You have mental health problems including mixed personality disorder and anti-social behaviour disorder. You were close to this woman and say you loved her. That is not the way you behave towards someone you love.
‘I know you have been greatly affected by her death and there is no suggestion it had anything to do with this incident.’
In a statement, Roch Valley Radio described Ms Martens as a much loved volunteer ‘who brought such a special glow every time she was on shift’.
They said: ‘We first met her when she graced our studios to read her beautiful poetry on our Saturday afternoon show. Annette enjoyed herself so much so she came on-board as a volunteer.
‘We often hear the saying “to light up the room”. It can safely be said that this is exactly what Annette brought with her. She said she enjoyed her role as patients get relief from depression through listening to music, describing it as cutting some of the pain.’
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