Attempted murder trial: Man denies throwing girlfriend from fourth-floor flat

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A 24-year-old man has denied throwing his girlfriend over the balcony railing of a fourth floor flat, leaving her with serious injuries.

A jury heard how 21-year-old Danielle Hammond fell 45ft and landed on a manhole cover and bushes below, but survived despite suffering severe injuries.

Lord Alexander House, Hemel Hempstead.

Lord Alexander House, Hemel Hempstead.

John McAleer, who has pleaded not guilty, is on trial for the attempted murder of the young mother in June of this year.

He told the jury he had been pushed by someone else in the flat in Hemel Hempstead, which caused him to stumble into Danielle who was sitting on the balcony railing, sending her toppling over.

McAleer, of Belsize Road, Hemel Hempstead, told St Albans Crown Court: “I went forward and knocked her off balance.

“She fell backwards and I tried to grab her leg as quickly and as tightly as I could, but she was sliding through my hands as she was falling back.”

Mr McAleer said at first he “froze” and didn’t want to look over the balcony rail.

The jury was told at the start of the trial that Danielle would not be giving evidence because of her injuries.

She suffered a fractured skull and bleeding around the brain, as well as major trauma to her internal abdominal organs.

Both her wrists were broken, she suffered a loss of hearing and her speech had been impaired.

She has now been discharged from hospital and is walking independently, but has no memory of the events of the night and doctors say her recovery will take years.

The prosecution claim Mr McAleer deliberately pushed Ms Hammond over the railings at the block of flats during a row in the early hours of Tuesday, June 30.

The jury heard that shortly before the incident, Danielle had told a girlfriend that Mr McAleer had pushed her over and she had ended up on the hallway floor.

Ann Evans, prosecuting, said following this, the friend told Danielle she should “get out of the relationship or she would leave her daughter without a mother.”

At the start of the trial the prosecutor told the court how, in June of this year, the pair were in an “on and off relationship.”

She said it was not without its incidents, and in the past the police had become involved following arguments.

The court heard how, during the evening of June 29, the couple had been drinking with friends in Hemel Hempstead town centre.

Later that night they all went back to the flat of the defendant’s sister in Lord 
Alexander House on Waterhouse Street, where there was more drinking and dancing plus drug-taking.

The jury were told around 2am that morning there was an incident between the pair in the hallway, where Danielle ended upon the floor.

They heard how the couple were left alone to talk and later ended up on the balcony.

Mrs Evans told the jury that one of the people in the flat that night was Jake Hulse who, at the time, was a friend of both Danielle and Mr McAleer.

“He noticed Danielle out on the balcony and he saw the defendant coming in from the balcony, but suddenly spin round towards her.

“Danielle appeared to raise her right leg up in front of herself like she was trying to protect herself.

“As he walked towards her, he grabbed her leg, pushed it up and threw her over the balcony.”

The case continues.