The lead singer of Kasabian has been spared jail despite an alcohol-fuelled “sustained assault” on his ex-fiancee, causing a backlash from Women’s charities.
Tom Meighan, 39, admitted to attacking Vikki Ager at their Leicester home, where he dragged her across the garden, threw her against a hamster cage, punched her in the face and threatened her with a wooden pallet.
The assault in April was so serious that a “panicked and afraid” child at the house phoned 999 to say a "domestic incident was taking place" and Miss Ager could be heard in the background screaming “get off me, get off me.”
But at Leicester Magistrates' Court, Judge Nick Watson said that despite there being evidence of previous abusive behaviour and that the attack “crosses the custody threshold”, he had to take into account “personal mitigation and charity work” and imposed a sentence of 200 hours community service.
The lenient sentence was roundly criticised by domestic abuse charities.
Women’s Aid said: “Sentences for domestic abuse must ensure that justice is done, not only to improve survivors' confidence in the criminal justice system but also to send a clear message to everyone that domestic abuse is unacceptable and that this crime is taken seriously.
“Lenient sentences completely undermine the severity of the offence and the lasting pain the abuse causes survivors. It also sends out a dangerous message to other abusers that they too can get away with it.”
It is understood that Miss Agar did not give a statement to the police and did not support the prosecution.
During the 90-minute hearing, CCTV of the attack was played in court as Meighan wiped his eyes with a tissue and held his head in his hands.
Defending him, 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".
Ms Heeley had made an application to the court for Meighan's address to be withheld from the public, quoting "high-profile cases such as Caroline Flack who committed suicide in similar circumstances".
The judge dismissed the application, saying an order banning the publication of a defendant's address was "not enacted for the comfort and feelings of defendants" and that there was not a "real and imminent risk to" Mr Meighan's life.
The singer shocked fans as he quit Kasabian on Monday, with the band releasing a statement saying he was dealing with "personal issues" and wanted to concentrate on "getting his life back on track".
Meighan subsequently wrote on Twitter: "Following today's announcement I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing well. I'm in a really good place now.”
Following today's announcement I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing well. I'm in a really good place now. Thanks for all your love and support. I'll be seeing you all very soon. TM x #TomMeighan #Kasabian
— Tom Meighan (@MeighanOfficial) July 6, 2020
It is now clear why he left the group, and the cynical move has also been widely criticised.
Women's Aid said: “Disappointing to see Kasabian say the reason their lead singer was leaving the band was due to ‘personal reasons that affected his behaviour’. Today he pleaded guilty to assaulting his former fiancée in front of a child. There is no excuse for abuse."
Meighan's departure from Kasabian leaves guitarist Serge Pizzorno and bassist Chris Edwards as the only remaining founding members from 1997, with current drummer Ian Matthews joining the group in 2004.
It is not clear whether the band, who have previously headlined Glastonbury and have six top-ten albums, will seek to replace Meighan as lead vocalist.
The bandmates said on Tuesday evening they were "were left with no choice but to ask Tom to leave the band."
The statement posted on Twitter, they added: "Ultimately, as much as Tom has hurt us all, we're not the victim in all of this. Domestic violence is something that can never be excused."