The ex-partner of a darts pro subjected to more than a year of controlling behaviour told a court: "It has totally taken away who I was."

Nicola Sandford has been left unable to walk down the street without looking over her shoulder following her treatment at the end of 35-year-old Patrick Aldoescu.

The father-of-three controlled Ms Sandford for more than a year when he took to drinking to try and cope with his depression, Cardiff Crown Court was told on Wednesday.

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Aldoescu and Ms Sandford started dating in 2018 and spent the best part of three years together but as time went on Aldoescu started to drink more, which made his behaviour change, and as a result the relationship started to deteriorate over time.

Prosecutor Abigail Jackson told the court a number of incidents took place between January 2020 and May 2021. One of the early incidents saw the defendant flip a bed onto his victim.

Ms Jackson explained there was a night Ms Sandford wanted to go to bed to which the defendant said: "What are you going to sleep for?" She continued: "The defendant picked up the bed and threw it on top of her. When she got up and asked to leave the defendant smashed her mobile phone." Ms Jackson said the victim sustained bruises as a result of the incident.

As time went on the defendant also became adamant that Ms Sandford was having an affair and kept questioning her about it.

There was also an incident where he hit her in the stomach and he would also sometimes turn up to her place of work. Ms Jackson said: "On May 18 this year she decided to end the relationship. She told him she loved him but she was afraid of him."

Ms Sandford provided a victim personal statement to the court where she said the relationship has changed her life and left her feeling "afraid".

Ms Sandford said she hoped the defendant was able to access the support he needs in relation to his issues with alcohol consumption.

The statement read: "When Patrick was drinking the sound of a can opening really went through me. Writing this was the most difficult thing I've ever done. It has totally taken away who I was. Every time I leave home I still worry and look over my shoulder. I have a right to go out and feel safe."

She also said she now always makes sure her doors are locked and has also put chains on them.

The court was told the defendant recently tried to make contact with the victim when she was with a colleague from work. He tried to give her a silver locket with a picture of her recently-deceased mother inside.

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Aldoescu, of Broad Mead Park, Newport, admitted coercive control and additional charges of aggravated vehicle-taking and driving without a licence and insurance.

Martha Smith-Higgins, mitigating, said Aldoescu was a darts professional who could "earn up to £1,000 per competition".

She told the court the defendant was "not proud" of his behaviour and knows he must start a new life.

She said: "The defendant accepts the relationship is over. He needs to move on. He is very emotional about it and he accepts it has to stop.

"It was not until two years into the relationship that this defendant's problem with alcohol was a real issue. He used alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with his own mental health."

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told the defendant she had no choice but to send him to prison and said he left his victim "afraid and frightened" by his behaviour.

Judge Lloyd-Clarke said: "In early 2020 Ms Sandford was at home and you shouted at her because she wanted to go to sleep. You tipped over the bed. You picked up her phone and broke it. She wanted to sleep because she had work.

"You punched her to the stomach in such a way to make her cry."

Aldoescu was sentenced to 18 months in prison and was disqualified from driving for 21 months for driving without a licence. A restraining order was also imposed, which means he is unable to make contact with Ms Sandford for 10 years.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse visit the Live Fear Free website or call the helpline on 0808 80 10 800.

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