Man guilty of attempted murder after pushing girlfriend off the balcony of a fourth floor flat

Delays continue following the serious collision
Delays continue following the serious collision

A man who threw his girlfriend off the balcony of a fourth floor flat has been found guilty of her attempted murder.

John McAleer, 24, of Belsize Road, Hemel, was convicted by a jury at St Albans Crown Court by a majority of 11 to 1 on Friday.

His partner, Danielle Hammond, fell 45 feet from the flat at Lord Alexander House in Hemel Hempstead and landed in bushes and a manhole cover.

The 21-year-old survived the fall, but suffered a fractured skull and bleeding around the brain, as well as major trauma to her internal abdominal organs. Both her wrists were broken. Her hearing and speech have also been impaired.

McAleer had 81 previous convictions.

Judge Marie Catterson adjourned sentence for probation and psychiatric reports.

Danielle did not give evidence because of the injuries she suffered that night. She has been discharged from hospital and is walking independently, but she now has no memory of the events of the night and her recovery will take years.

Prosecutor Ann Evans told the court how, in June of this year, the pair were in an “on-and-off relationship”.

She said it was not without its incidents and, in the past, the police had become involved following arguments.

During the evening of Saturday, June 29, the couple had been with friends drinking in Hemel Hempstead town centre.

Later that night they all went back to the flat of the defendant’s sister in Lord Alexander House, close to the town centre, where there was more drinking and dancing and some drug-taking.

At around 2am Danielle ended upon the floor in the hallway after a confrontation with McAleer. The couple were left alone to talk and later ended up on the balcony.

Mrs Evans said Jake Hulse who, at the time, was a friend of both Danielle and Mr McAleer, “noticed Danielle out on the balcony and he saw the defendant coming in from the balcony, but suddenly spin round towards her.

“Danielle appeared to raise her right leg up in front of herself like she was trying to protect herself.

“As he walked towards her, he grabbed her leg, pushed it up and threw her over the balcony.”

Mr Hulse saw the defendant look over the balcony as she fell to the ground before turning and coming back inside the flat.

Mrs Evans said that on seeing Mr Hulse, Mr McAleer immediately said Danielle had fallen.

She added: “Jake Hulse, in response, told him that he had seen what he had done. The defendant then went into hysterics, screaming ‘Danielle’s fallen,’ and ran into a bedroom to tell the others.”

In the witness box, Mr McAleer told the jury he and Danielle had been going out with each other for four to five years, and described the relationship as “on and off.”

He accepted they had rows, sometimes in public, but he told the court: “I loved her to bits, I love her to bits.”

McAleer was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on or after January 18 when the reports have been prepared.

The judge told him: “This is a very serious offence that can only be met with a substantial sentence of imprisonment.”