16 November 2021

Man who allegedly punched a pregnant woman and held her against her will pleads not guilty

| Albert McKnight
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Martin Phillips

Police have alleged Martin Carl Phillips threatened a woman in Canberra. Photo: AFP.

UPDATED: Martin Carl Phillips was due to face a five-day hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court starting on 15 November but instead, the prosecution withdrew 12 charges against him, including three counts of assaulting a pregnant woman. Full story here.

6 FEBRUARY 2021: A Scullin man accused of holding a woman against her will and assaulting her, including punching her in the stomach while she was 22 weeks pregnant, has denied the multiple charges laid against him by police.

Martin Carl Phillips appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (5 February) via audiovisual link as he is being held in custody. He pleaded not guilty to numerous charges he allegedly committed while on bail including three counts of threatening to kill a person, three counts of assaulting a pregnant woman and two counts of forcible confinement.

The statement of facts from the Australian Federal Police submitted to the court details many instances of alleged abuse committed by the 35-year-old against the 20-year-old woman, including allegedly breaking her nose and punching her face as well as her pregnant stomach.

In the facts she details an alleged incident on the evening of 30 January during which she claimed Mr Phillips told her she could not leave him, hit her in the stomach leaving a bruise and later told her he could easily kill her while he erratically waved around a hunting knife with an 18 cm blade.

The facts allege she was told by Mr Phillips to strip down to her underwear and was “forced to sit on the floor like a dog” at his feet while he continued to abuse her emotionally.

During the alleged abuse on 30 January, she felt if she tried to escape from him and failed, he would most likely kill her.

On 31 January, police were contacted by the woman’s family who told them she was allegedly being held against her will by Mr Phillips. Officers visited a property in Canberra to speak to her.

Police said the woman was “visibly afraid”, spoke in hushed tones and allegedly had visible facial injuries including a black eye, swollen right cheek and a laceration to her nose, as well as bruising to her arms.

She accepted an offer from police to leave with them but Mr Phillips, who was also at the property, allegedly acted aggressively to the officers which frightened the woman. She is reported to have quietly told an officer: “As soon as you leave, he is going to flog me.”

The woman eventually did leave with the police and a forensic medical officer who examined the woman on 31 January said she had a broken nose, her face was swollen, had a laceration to her right arm and bruising to both, and had a visible bruise on her stomach “consistent with having been punched in that region of her body”.

When Mr Phillips appeared in court on Friday before Magistrate James Lawton, he pleaded not guilty to the 12 charges levelled against him.

His lawyer called three witnesses before the court to support him in his bid for bail.

The first witness claimed Mr Phillips’ alleged victim had spoken to her on 30 January and told her she had been bashed by two girls.

While the witness was hesitant to name these women, eventually doing so, she claimed to have spoken to them and said they would be in touch with Mr Phillip’s lawyer.

She also claimed Mr Phillip’s alleged victim “would lie a lot”. This witness said she had known Mr Phillips for years and never known him to be violent, although she admitted he had yelled at her “if I got in his face”.

When Magistrate Lawton asked this witness about a bump he could see on her head she claimed she had received a graze to her temple when lawn mowing.

Magistrate Lawton did not determine the bail application on the day and adjourned the matter to 9 February.

Mr Phillips barely spoke in the courtroom, but he called out “love you, mum” just before the hearing concluded.

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