Wronged husband beat up close friend

Basingstoke Gazette: Neil Child Neil Child

A WRONGED husband has been released from jail after his remorseful estranged wife confessed to appeal court judges that she had been having an affair with a man he beat up.

As previously reported by The Gazette, Chris Van Niekerk, 35, was jailed for 15 months in August for attacking his close friend and fellow RAC mechanic Neil Child.

He claimed to have seen his estranged wife Lindsay cavorting with Mr Child through a window at home in Northfield Road, Sherfield-on-Loddon.

Mr Child denied the accusation, insisting his friend had got the wrong end of the stick. He said that he and Mrs Van Niekerk had accidentally “fallen” on to a bed while he comforted her after she became upset. He added that he had gone to the house to pick up a birthday present.

Judge Keith Cutler handed father-of-three Van Niekerk, who admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm, the 15-month sentence on the basis that he was not provoked by any sexual relations between his friend and wife.

But an appeal court hearing in London was told that Mrs Van Niekerk has now admitted that she was indeed having an affair with Mr Child – a confession that prompted three senior judges to decide to release her husband after substituting his original jail term with a suspended sentence.

Mr Justice Collins, who heard the appeal case with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, said it was clear the story about accidentally falling on to the bed “simply was untrue”.

He said: “We have seen a statement from his wife. She recognises she had been having the affair, and she recognises that created the situation which led her husband to act entirely out of character and assault Mr Child in the way that he did.

“She still feels some responsibility for what happened and, indeed, she is punishing herself following his imprisonment for what happened.”

Winchester Crown Court had heard that Van Niekerk and his wife had been on a trial separation and were living apart when he went round to their house at about midnight on March 16.

Van Niekerk said he looked through a window and flew into a rage when he spotted Mr Child having “sexual relations” with Mrs Van Niekerk on the bed.

He attacked 37-year-old Mr Child in the house, punching him. He continued the assault outside, pulling his victim from his van, wrestling him to the ground, and punching him again.

The three appeal court judges also heard that Judge Cutler had been wrongly informed about Mr Child’s injuries, which although serious, were not as bad as he had been told.

Allowing the appeal against sentence, Mr Justice Collins said the judge should not have rejected Van Niekerk’s account without giving him a chance to explain himself properly in court. Van Niekerk walked free from the appeal court after having his sentence cut to six months, suspended for a year. The court heard he was going to live with a friend in Basingstoke, and is banned from going to Mr Child’s house.

Referring to Van Niekerk, Mr Justice Collins said: “It has undoubtedly, the whole situation, had a very dire effect upon his family and he has taken very hard the fact of imprisonment.”

When contacted by The Gazette, Mr Child, of Beckett Gardens, Bramley, said that he and his family were now trying to move on with their lives, and he did not want to comment further about the situation.

When The Gazette went to the home of Mrs Van Niekerk, Mr Van Niekerk was inside but also said he did not wish to commen

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