New Mills man “possessed by the devil” given suspended sentence order for assaulting wife

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A New Mills man, whose wife believes he is possessed by the devil, has been given a suspended sentence order after assaulting her on two separate occasions.

In February, Antony Berry returned to the home he shared with wife Claire on Buxton Road drunk at around 9.30pm, High Peak Magistrates’ Court heard. An argument over another woman began with Berry threatening to kill his wife before grabbing her by the throat and throwing her across the room on four occasions, prosecutor Jennifer Fitzgerald said.

On March 15, Berry returned to the house at around 1am after going out drinking with his brother. The couple argued and Berry grabbed his wife by the neck and threw her on to the bed. He again threatened to kill her, before kneeling over her and repeatedly punching her to the left side of her face and head. He then twisted her ankle several times, causing her to scream in agony before throwing her backwards on to the floor.

Berry, 52, currently of Albion Road, was found guilty of two counts of assault by beating after trial.

John Bunting, defending, said an affair Berry had a few years ago had caused ongoing problems between the couple, adding: “The complainant has quite unusual religious beliefs.

“She says in her statement that she believes he is possessed by Satan. She acknowledges that she held a crucifix in his face.”

He added that she and her sister had thrown holy water over Berry, and that a photograph of him proved he was possessed by the devil because he had the “teeth of Satan”.

“She also said he attracted evil spirits to the home. She even saw a small dragon fly across the lounge and into the chimney,” Mr Bunting added.

Mrs Berry had arranged for her husband to see an exorcist in France, the court heard.

“It is an extraordinary case,” Mr Bunting added.

“He is a man of exemplary good character.”

Berry was given 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 24 months. He must also comply with a 24-month supervision order, pay £620 costs and an £80 surcharge.