Man brutally beats up ex-girlfriend for refusing his marriage proposal
| May 11th 2015
A woman has told how she was forced to beg for her life as her ex-boyfriend beat her up, strangled her, doused her in lighter fluid as he whispered he was going to burn her – because she rejected his marriage proposal.
Helen Byrom has bravely spoken for the first time after her ex Vincent Bowen beat her so badly police officers thought her blonde, blood-soaked hair was dyed red.
Despite being convicted of grievous bodily harm he was jailed for just 28 months of which he will serve only half.
“It’s sickening,” Miss Byrom said. “I was horribly injured and he will be out in October – free to walk the streets.
“When he attacked me he was like a wild animal.
“He got a short sentence but I’ve been left with a life sentence.”
Miss Byrom, a team manager for a local authority, had been dating Bowen for three years when she broke up with him in September 2013.
He moved out of her home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, but a month later returned and proposed to her.
Miss Byrom rejected his proposal, but felt sorry for him and said he could live in her house as a lodger.
She then started another relationship, but her and unemployed Bowen remained good friends.
Only on August 2, 2014, Bowen came home drunk and launched into a vicious attack.
After punching Miss Byrom multiple times in the face, he strangled her then doused her in lighter fluid and whispered, ‘I’m going to burn you.’
Miss Byrom begged for her life while Bowen said, ‘this is what you have driven me to.’
As Bowen reached for a lighter, Miss Byrom ran out her house and sought comfort at her neighbour’s house.
She was taken to the accident and emergency department at Dewsbury Hospital and was left needing six stitches and counselling.
Three hours after the incident Bowen turned himself in, and on October 18, 2014, he appeared at Leeds Crown Court.
Bowen, now 54, of Dewsbury, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent to cause serious harm and jailed for 28 months.
Now Miss Byrom is determined to raise awareness about domestic violence, and is urging other victims to seek help.
Miss Byrom, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, says: “Whenever I think of that night I shudder in horror. He was like a wild animal.
“It’s the age-old story, at first he treated me like a princess. We met on the plane when we were both coming back from a holiday in Gambia. We were sat next to each other.
“He was charming and funny, and we spent the whole five-and-a-half hour flight laughing away. I was thrilled when he asked for my number.
“The next day he called me, one thing led to another, and a week later he drove to mine from Leamington Spa to surprise me.
“I thought it was so romantic, I was smitten from the off.”
Only others were not as supportive of their relationship. Miss Byrom’s sister Ruth, disliked Bowen from the start.
Miss Byrom admitted: “My sister just said there was something off about him, but I didn’t see it.
“I’d fallen for him, I thought we’d be together forever.
“That’s why I overlooked certain things. For example, I always paid for everything.
“He lived at mine rent free. I bought all the food, paid the bills and even paid for us to go on holiday twice a year.
“I did tell him to look for a job, and he told me he was, but looking back I don’t know if that’s true.”
In September 2013, when the couple were on holiday together in Turkey, Miss Byrom decided to end the relationship.
She says: “I knew things had to come to an end, I felt like he was taking advantage of me.
“So as soon as we were back home I told him it was over, that he needed to move out. He was still there at Christmas, so then I was really firm.
“In January he moved out, but a month later he came round armed with a wedding ring. I thought he must be joking, it was surreal.
“I told him that we weren’t even together, so why would I marry him? But on some level I felt sorry for him.
“He promised he’d changed, so I said he could move back in as a lodger. For a while everything was okay. He was on housing benefits and paid his way.
“But as soon as I started dating someone else he started getting jealous, making sly comments.
“After that I was sure not to rub it in face, and never invited the guy back to my house.”
But despite this, Bowen wouldn’t let it lie, and on the night of August 2, 2014, he returned home after an evening of drinking.
Miss Byrom explained: “He was drunk and was saying that I was disrespectful being with another man.
“The suddenly he launched at me, pummelling me with his fists. I couldn’t believe it.
“Then he poured this liquid over me, told me I was going to burn. It was then I was convinced I was going to be burnt to death.
“Thankfully when he was reaching for his lighter I managed to get away and run to my neighbours.
“They couldn’t believe the state of me. My face was bloody, puffy and bruised. I was unrecognisable.
“I called the police, and he turned himself in three hours later. My friend took me to hospital, I was in a daze.
“He got sentenced to 28 months, but he’s left me with a life sentence. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust a man again.
“But I won’t let that monster win. I’m stronger than that.”
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