A judge has warned that women entering into a relationship with one ‘possessive’ Bury St Edmunds man do so ‘at their peril’.
At Ipswich Crown Court on Friday, Robert Agostini was sentenced to 34 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years.
The 48-year-old, of Prospect Row, had pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage and theft.
The court heard how he had locked 56-year-old Thessilia Rose inside her home on Bury’s Howard Estate after ripping out the phone wire, pouring water over her laptop computer and throwing pot plants about.
Prosecuting, Richard Kelly said Agostini had previously been in a ‘volatile’ relationship with Ms Rose and had continued to harass her after it had ended three years ago.
Agostini went on to have a relationship with another woman but, when she died in a house fire, he had contacted Ms Rose again.
Mr Kelly said: “He was clearly very upset because his partner had been killed in a house fire. He was traumatised by the loss of her and wanted to talk to Ms Rose about it - thought that she might be able to help him.”
Their relationship was rekindled and Ms Rose told police that, at the time, Agostini’s character appeared to have changed for the better.
On September 20, last year, Agostini had been at her house when an argument began over what he alleged was a message she had posted on Facebook to another man.
Mr Kelly said: “As a result of the argument she asked him to leave her address, which he did without issue. After leaving, he sent her a number of abusive messages. She recognised the old behaviour patterns coming to the fore.”
The court heard that, after returning to Ms Rose’s home the following day, Agostini pushed her, causing facial injuries, poured a glass of water over her laptop computer and threw about a number of pot plants.
As he left, he pocketed the back door key and locked the front door, leaving Ms Rose trapped inside.
He also ripped out the phone wire, but she was able to reconnect it and call a neighbour for help, said Mr Kelly.
When a police officer arrived, he had to climb in through a window.
Mr Kelly said: “She was extremely distressed by what had happened and the fact that she was locked inside her house.”
On September 25, after police left messages on his phone, Agostini gave himself up at Bury police station.
The court heard that Agostini had previous convictions for assault, threatening behaviour and in 2009 had breached a non molestation order granted to Ms Rose. He had also appeared in court for harassing his partner, who later died in the fire.
In mitigation, David Wilson said Agostini had reacted ‘completely inappropriately’ after seeing messages allegedly sent by Ms Rose and that he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Judge John Devaux said a probation report had identified Agostini as being at high risk of re-offending.
He said: “There is a pattern of violent offending here in relationships. Women enter into relationships with you at their peril. You are possessive and selfish, especially when you don’t get your own way.”
In addition to the suspended sentence, Agostini was placed under Probation Service supervision for two years and ordered to participate in a Better Relationships Programme. Judge Devaux granted a restraining order forbidding Agostini from entering the Howard Estate until further notice.