A man who hurled his girlfriend out of a fourth-floor maisonette window during a violent argument has been warned to prepare himself for ‘a very long sentence indeed.’
Miraculously, Iain MacLachlan Sim’s victim Stephanie Butler not only survived the plunge to the ground below, she has battled back to be able to walk unaided to give evidence in court.
MacLachlan Sim, 28, of Eden Court, Lillington, had denied attempting to murder Miss Butler in October 2016, claiming she had jumped – and a jury last year had been unable to reach a verdict.
But following a retrial at Warwick Crown Court, he was found guilty by a majority of 10-2.
The case was adjourned to May 23 when his barrister Tim Raggatt QC, who had represented him during the trial but was not present when the verdict was announced, can attend.
But remanding MacLachlan Sim in custody, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC warned him: “You have been convicted by this jury of throwing Stephanie Butler out of a window, and found guilty of attempted murder.
“I am adjourning your sentence. In the meantime, you should prepare yourself for a very long sentence indeed.”
Prosecutor Sarah Gaunt had told the jury: “The focus of this trial is the early hours of the 18th of October 2016 at a maisonette or flat at Fallow Hill, Sydenham, in Leamington.
“As we move into the early hours of the 18th, the defendant and his then-girlfriend Stephanie Butler were arguing at that address.
“There is no dispute that following this argument, the complainant left the maisonette through a window and landed in the alleyway outside. Whilst surviving the fall, she sustained life-changing injuries.
“There can, you may think, given the position of the windows, be no dispute that she went through the window by way of a deliberate act.
“The issue is whether Stephanie threw herself out of the window, as the defendant suggests, or whether she was thrown or pushed out of the window, as suggested by the prosecution.
“It is the prosecution’s case that if you are sure the defendant pushed her out of the window, at the point he did this, because of the height of the window, he must have intended to kill her.”
Miss Gaunt pointed out that the window was in an upstairs room of the upper of two maisonettes in Fallow Hill, so it was on the fourth floor of the building.
The jury heard that MacLachlan Sim and Stephanie had been in an on-off relationship, and both of them would at times stay in a spare room at the Fallow Hill home of friends of theirs.
On that night the four of them and another young man had been drinking, and had got through part of a bottle of vodka.
Stephanie said MacLachlan Sim was abusive and controlling during their relationship.
In an argument in the summer of 2016 he had held a knife to her throat and held her dog over the balcony of her mother’s sixth-floor flat, threatening to drop it.
And in July that year he was convicted of common assault on a previous partner after threatening her with a knife.
A few days before the incident, Stephanie had been in bed at their friend’s home when Maclachlan Sim, who had gone out drinking, returned and began telling other people he was going to beat her up – so she left and went to her mother’s home.
On October 17 she was persuaded to go back to Fallow Hill to speak to him, where she found him to be ‘sullen,’ so to try to appease him, she bought him some vodka and ran him a bath.
But he began to argue with her before going upstairs, and she followed to try to talk him down, but it became more heated, even after one of their friends tried to calm him down.
“What happened after this point from Stephanie’s point of view is not a consistent recollection of events.
“When she fell on the ground she sustained multiple injuries to her feet, ankles and legs, and also injured her frontal lobe, causing memory loss, but events have slowly come back to her,” said Miss Gaunt.
“It is the prosecution case that this defendant was angry at the time with Stephanie, and angry at the time she went out of the window.”
MacLachlan Sim claimed he was not even in the room from which Stephanie went out of the window, and that he presumed she had jumped, denying pushing or throwing her out.
During the original trial in July last year, Stephanie was pushed into court in a wheelchair to give evidence – but this time she walked, unsteady but unaided.
Mr Raggatt put to her that earlier that year, around the time of McLachlan Sim’s birthday in June, they had stayed at the Lord Leycester Hotel in Warwick where, he suggested, MacLachlan Sim had to stop her jumping out of the window.
She said that was not true, and shouted to MacLachlan Sim in the dock:“Why are you lying Iain? Just tell the f***ing truth.”
She said that at Fallow Hill he had pinned her down, and one of their friends had intervened and told her to go into one of the bedrooms – but that Maclachlan Sim followed her in.
Mr Raggatt suggested MacLachlan Sim had never gone into that room, and that she had decided to jump from the window.
But Stephanie insisted: “No. If I had done what you’re saying I done, when I came out of hospital I’d have finished what I wanted to do. I never wanted to kill myself.
“He tried to kill me, and he’s put it into your head that I’ve done it myself. I have not.”