Girlfriend ‘beaten almost to death’ court told

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A controlling bully who beat his girlfriend so violently that her face was unrecognisable is now facing prison for attempted murder.

After his evil attack, Ian Ratledge, 51, left Shelley McGovern for dead under a duvet in their Newport Pagnell home, a court heard this week.

A lodger found her the following day and thought she had been in a fire because her face was so swollen and black.

“She had no face. I couldn’t see her eyes. I couldn’t make out her mouth,” said Mark Baker, who crept out of the house to dial 999.

He rented a bedroom of the house while Ratledge slept in the lounge with Miss McGovern, who is in her 30s.

On February 24 Ratledge asked Mr Baker to swap rooms with the explanation that he had “smashed Shelley’s head in”, the court heard.

It is also believed he attempted to strangle her.

Miss McGovern suffered a bleed on the brain, haemorrhaging to both her eyes and severe bruising over the face and body

She spent a month in hospital recovering and has since needed extensive psychiatric counselling.

Medics told her she would have died if she had been left without help for much longer.

The court heard how Ratledge had previously been abusive towards Miss McGovern and had once hacked off her long blonde hair.

“He was bullying, domineering and violent,” said Matthew Walsh prosecuting.

Miss McGovern’s mother Dawn told the court how her daughter had deteriorated within weeks of meeting Ratledge.

“Physically she looked awful, dirty clothes and her hair was totally unkempt...She thought Ian was God and invincible and things like that,” she said.

She described her daughter’s face after the attack as “like a horror movie”.

Miss McGovern herself was not in a fit state to give evidence in court.

In a statement she said: “I’m absolutely terrified of Ian. I don’t want to see his face or hear his voice.”

Ratledge is pleading not guilty to attempted murder and causing grevious bodily harm with intent.

When arrested he claimed his girlfriend’s injuries were self-inflicted.

The Oxford Crown Court trial continues.