Domestic abuse charities have criticised as inappropriate the sentence of community service given to the former Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan for assaulting his former fiancee.
On Tuesday evening Meighan’s former bandmates condemned his “totally unacceptable” behaviour, saying it had left them with no choice but to ask him to leave the group.
Meighan, 39, appeared at Leicester magistrates court on Tuesday, where he was ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work for attacking Vikki Ager.
The court heard that Ager was hit in the face, shoved up against a hamster cage, pushed over repeatedly, held by the throat and threatened with a wooden pallet during the assault on 9 April. Footage of the incident showed a drunken Meighan striking Ager and dragging her by the ankles into the back garden of their home, causing her multiple injuries.
The district judge, Nick Watson, told the singer: “I could have sent you to prison” for the incident, which he described as a “sustained attack” that was a “violation of the trust and security that should exist between partners”.
Watson said Ager had not made a statement to police and “does not appear to support this prosecution” but added that police had been called to the address before and there was “evidence of previous abusive behaviour”.
However, Meighen was sentenced to community service because of his previous good history and charity work. The judge added: “I need to take account of the fact that not only did you hurt Ms Ager, you also let down many people – band members and those who love your music.
“They will be shocked about what you did that night. I have been told that you have recognised that you have a problem with alcohol.”
The prosecutor, Naeem Valli, said the attack was witnessed by a child, who called 999, sounding “panicked and afraid”, while Ager could be heard saying, “Get off me, get off me” in the background.
Meighan, whose departure from Kasabian was announced on Monday, “smelled heavily of intoxicants” during the assault and was “uncooperative and aggressive” towards officers when they arrived, Valli added.
The frontman initially denied the assault but, after being shown the video footage, told officers he could not watch it any further because it was “horrible”.
Meighan, who is known for his swaggering onstage persona, wiped his eyes and held his head in his hands as CCTV footage of the incident was played to the court on Tuesday.
Ager suffered bruising to her knees, left elbow, outer ankle and big toe as well as a reddening around the neck, which she confirmed to police was as a result of the assault.
The singer’s barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, told the court he “offers his sincere apologies to the people he has let down and he has sought to address his offending behaviour”.
Nicki Norman, the acting chief executive of Women’s Aid, said appropriate sentencing was essential for recognising the severity of domestic abuse offences and sending a message to the perpetrators. Referring to Meighan’s case, she said: “This was not appropriate sentencing.”
She added: “Robust sentencing is important for ensuring abusers are brought to justice and for improving survivors’ confidence in the criminal justice system – which far too often they tell us fails to protect them.”
While not commenting specifically on the Meighan case, the domestic abuse charity Refuge said it was concerned that survivors may not have confidence in the criminal justice system to treat the issue as the serious crime that it is.
It said the criminal justice system must “keep pace with the scale and severity of domestic abuse in this country and ensure that perpetrators everywhere face the full force of the law”.
Meighan’s court appearance came a day after Kasabian band announced he was “stepping down from the band by mutual consent”.
A statement published on the band’s Twitter account on Tuesday evening said: “We’re completely heartbroken. But we were left with no choice but to ask Tom to leave the band. There is absolutely no way we can condone his assault conviction. Domestic violence and abuse of any kind is totally unacceptable.
“As soon as we found out about the charges made against Tom, we as a band made the decision that we could no longer work with him. Unfortunately we had to hold back this information until he was found guilty in court.”
Meighan’s departure from Kasabian leaves guitarist Serge Pizzorno and bassist Chris Edwards as the only remaining founding members. Drummer Ian Matthews joined the group in 2004.