A woman who endured a sustained and bloody attack by her ex-police inspector partner has bravely spoken out about her painful and terrifying ordeal.
The 47-year-old, from Pembroke, who we are calling Ceri to protect her identity, described how Paul Bonning was “frothing at the mouth” in anger before he beat her, striking her with a knife after he came home from a night out on Sunday, July 1, 2018.
The 54-year-old had previously served 30 years with the Met Police in London and with Dyfed-Powys Police.
Swansea Crown Court heard how following the attack Bonning told Ceri not to go to bed as he did not want her blood on his white sheets, and warned her not to report the assault to the police as he knew people “high up” in the force.
The mum-of-two said Bonning’s threats resulted in her being too terrified to tell officers the truth when she was confronted about her injuries while at hospital.
Describing the night in question, she said: “He had been out and I’d gone to his house when he came back in [and had some drinks].
“He’d had a couple of drinks and we went off to bed and he had a whiskey and I grabbed a glass of water.
“We were just talking about random stuff and I [asked him a question] Then he got up and went ballistic, frothing at the mouth, shouting and screaming and swearing.
“I [ended up] on the floor and then I sat on the sofa and asked him if I could finish what I wanted to say and with that, he gave me a wallop in the face. Then it was round two, back on the floor.
“I went outside, came back in and he was stood there with the knife.”
Ceri said she tried calming Bonning down to no avail so then tried leaving the room. Mr Bonning then retrieved a black-handled knife from the kitchen and struck her on the back of her head.
Ceri started to bleed profusely, though it is unclear which end of the knife was used to attack her, the court heard.
As a result, she suffered a 10cm cut to the top of her head along with bruising which “had the appearance of finger marks” to the upper arms and bruises and tenderness to her back and shoulder.
“He saw the bleeding and told me I needed to get it looked at ,” she said.
“He went to go to bed and said I could not join him because he didn’t want me to get blood on his sheets, so I sat out in the car because I had a few drinks and couldn’t drive home. I went back in the house and stayed on the sofa until the next day.”
When Ceri got home the next day, she said she was in a “lot of pain” so went to hospital. She said that she had been told by Bonning to tell medical staff at the hospital that she had fallen off a chair and had hit her head.
She said she obeyed Bonning as she was not in the right state of mind to be open about what happened.
“I told them I fell and then they checked my blood pressure and stuff which meant the nurse checking my arm. It was all bruised, and she went out of the room and another lady came in. They then called the police,” Ceri said.
Again, because of her state of mind at the time, Ceri said she was unable to be honest with officers at that point in time so did not make a complaint.
Bonning later gave a “no comment” interview to police and no further action was taken.
Ian Wright, prosecuting, said following the attack the pair met on a local beach where Bonning told her not to go to the police, telling her she was a bad liar, and adding “the police will suck it out of you – that is what they do”.
The prosecutor said Bonning was subsequently served with a domestic violence protection notice but once that expired the couple stayed in touch and, though there was no further physical violence in the relationship, the defendant was verbally abusive.
The relationship finally ended in January 2019, and later that year Ceri went to the police to report the earlier assault.
Ceri said: “I stuck by [him] and said I wouldn’t press charges and we were on and off for a while. Then it all came to a head [and] I thought I’m not going to be bullied anymore so I went to the police and reported it and asked if it was too late for me to press charges about the incident that happened before, so I did.”
Bonning, of East Back, Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, had previously pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has no previous convictions.
At the hearing Dean Pulling, for Bonning, said his client was, to use his own words, “almost burnt out” by the time he retired from policing, was suffering with stress and depression and potentially from post-traumatic stress disorder, and for the first time in his life had been drinking to excess.
The barrister said a pre-sentence report concluded Bonning posed a low risk of re-offending, and said beyond punishment a term of immediate custody would serve little or no benefit.
Bonning was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete a rehabilitation course and a building better relationships course. He was also ordered to pay his victim £2,000 in compensation, and to pay £720 towards prosecution costs.
Ceri said that with hindsight, she wishes she had been honest with the police sooner, but said it is not that simple for victims in that situation.
She said it took a lot of persuading from lots of people close to her for her to build up enough courage to disclose the details.
“It’s really hard to explain why you cover up for someone who has done this to you, but I think this should have been taken out of my hands. People in that situation are afraid and they are terrified, of course you want to protect that person.
“I wish I had done all of this at the time, but it’s not that simple. Anyone who has survived this, or will go through this and comes out the other side will understand.
“My energy had been zapped out and I just felt weak, embarrassed and ashamed. I thought, ‘do I want to go through this and speak out about it?’, especially with him telling me he knew people high up in the force.
“When they suspected something was going on with me and I said I wasn’t going to press charges, I think they should have been able to do it for me. As much as I would have hated it at the time, I would have thanked them in the long run.”