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Millionaire who left girlfriend to die after 'rough sex session' to appeal sentence

By Richard Guttridge | South Staffordshire | Crime | Published:

Natalie Connolly was left to die after sustaining more than 40 injuries at her home.

Millionaire John Broadhurst will bid to appeal his sentence over the manslaughter of Natalie Connolly

A millionaire who left his girlfriend to die at the bottom of their stairs has launched an appeal against his prison sentence which was labelled "unduly lenient" amid widespread fury.

Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman was among those who criticised the 44-month sentence handed down to John Broadhurst for the manslaughter of Natalie Connolly at their home in Kinver.

The Express & Star can now reveal that the millionaire businessman is attempting to have his sentence cut.

Natalie Connolly died at the couple's Kinver home

Broadhurst has launched an appeal against the term, of which he has served nearly a year.

His case is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

Wyre Forest Parliamentary candidate Mark Garnier, who is attempting to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill alongside Ms Harman as a result of the case, said he was "dumbfounded" by the decision to appeal, and that if it was successful it would be a "slap in the face" for Ms Connolly and her family.

Should Broadhurst's sentence be cut it could make him eligible for release within months.

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Police outside the home where Natalie was found in Kenrose Mill, Kinver

The 26-year-old was left bleeding to death after a "rough sex session" in December 2016. The mother-of-one had sustained more than 40 injuries and a post-mortem showed she died from acute alcohol intoxication and blunt force injuries.

Following the trial, senior Labour figure Ms Harman said she was "horrified" by the length of the sentence given by Mr Justice Julian Knowles, insisting Broadhurst should spend longer behind bars, while Mr Garnier also questioned the judge's decision.

The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox came under pressure to review the sentence but said he was "unable to intervene" as the length of the jail term fell within guidelines.

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Broadhurst, 41, who is worth an estimated £15m, went to sleep following the couple’s drink and drugs-fuelled sex session as Ms Connolly lay fighting for her life at the bottom of the stairs, the trial was told.

The property developer was cleared of her murder but found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

John Broadhurst arriving at Birmingham Crown Court for the trial

He was accused of beating her with his fists during the sex session at their five-bedroom rented house they shared on Kenrose Mill with children from previous relationships.

The pair had been together for around six months and she appeared happy, according to her sister.

Prosecutor Mr David Mason QC claimed Broadhurst’s failure to call for help showed a "blatant disregard" that his partner could die and said it must have been "obvious" there was a risk her condition was fatal.

But defence barrister Mr Stephen Vullo QC said "law abiding" Broadhurst, of Wolverley, would have called emergency services if he had he been sober.

Mr Garnier said: "I'm dumbfounded. The reality of it is John Broadhurst carried out appalling abuse of Natalie Connolly. He doesn't seem to be a very nice piece of work.

Mark Garnier said he was "dumbfounded" by the appeal

"It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this appeal is going to be. Frankly it will be a slap in the face for Natalie, her family and friends if the sentence is reduced. It is simply breathtaking."

Mr Garnier said it was his understanding Ms Connolly's family were not intending to attend the hearing due to the distress it would cause.

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They described Broadhurst as "callous and disrespectful" following the trial.

Ms Harman is also understood to be furious about the appeal.

The former solicitor general and ex-acting Labour leader said at the time: “Bearing in mind she died of violent injuries inflicted on her by him it’s hard to see how the sentence wasn’t even four years.

“This is a very ominous development. We stopped men getting away with murder by blaming their wife’s infidelity and now we’ve got a new version of male justification for homicide.”

Harriet Harman said she was "horrified" by the sentence

Mr Garnier and Ms Harman are working together across party lines to try and amend the bill following Ms Connolly's death.

They want to make changes so if someone dies as a result of abuse the fact they were participants cannot be used as a defence.

They also want to stop murder charges being downgraded to manslaughter, unless approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The charity Women's Aid said abusive men should not be "seen to be getting off lightly".

Lucy Hadley, campaigns and public affairs manager, said: “With domestic homicides at a five-year high, we need to see sentences that reflect the gravity and severity of this devastating crime, and those sentences need to be properly enforced.

"Every four days another woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. We owe it to the women who have lost their lives, and their families, to ensure that their perpetrators face the full force of the law and are not seen to be getting off lightly. Light sentencing sends a dangerous message to perpetrators and makes our communities less safe.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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