Bully kept girl, 16, as a prisoner in his St Albans flat

James Bowman aka Danny Wills

James Bowman aka Danny Wills - Credit: Archant

A bully beat and controlled a vulnerable teenage girl he befriended, and kept her locked inside his flat so no one would see her bruises, a court has heard.

When the girl’s father tracked her down he was shocked to see her thin, dirty and bruised so badly she looked like she had “gone five rounds with Mike Tyson”.

Hospital staff found 50 marks of injury caused by James Bowman, aka Danny Willis, hitting her with a metal pole, a curtain pole and his hands. He also tried to strangle her, put her head under water and threatened to kill her.

He took away her mobile phone so she was isolated, forced drugs on her and barely fed her, said prosecutor, Peter Shaw, on Friday.

Bowman was 30 and the girl 16, when they met after she bought cannabis from him.

When she told him she had been thrown out of a hostel he took her into his flat above a shop in Chequer Street, St Albans, said Mr Shaw at Luton Crown Court.

She had left her family home while experiencing a difficult adolesence and was described as vulnerable.

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In March this year she moved in with Bowman, but, Recorder Ian Gatt QC said, within a short space of time he turned into a “bullying, controlling, sadist”.

He told Bowman: “In effect you made her a prisoner, whether the doors were locked or not.

“You were violent and physically and psychologically abused her.

“When her father tracked her down in June the sight he saw was horrific. She was dirty, thin, disturbed, distressed and bruised.”

Mr. Shaw said victim impact statements revealed that she and her family were still suffering from the effects of her ordeal, although she was trying to get back to some sort of normality.

Bowman pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault causing actual bodily harm.

He also admitted growing cannabis in the flat.

Recorder Gatt said he considered Bowman to be dangerous and passed an extended sentence, which sets a five year prison sentence with a parole licence extended for two years.

The court heard he had previously been convicted of assaults in domestic settings, and had attended a domestic abuse programme.

“I am satisfied you are dangerous. I am concerned by the escalation of your offending behaviour, particularly in a domestic context,” said the judge.

Simon Connolly, defending, said: “He has difficulty confronting his behaviour, but does see the damage he has done and is sorry for that.

“His guilty pleas have meant a traumatised victim has not had to give evidence.

“He did not want to make things worse for her.

“He has his own insecurities and weaknesses and was in no state to be responsible for someone as vulnerable as her.

“It was kind of a car crash that these two individuals met.”

Det Insp Francesca Ward, from Herts Police harm reduction unit, who led the investigation said: “James Bowman subjected his victim to a truly horrific ordeal and has shown no remorse for his actions.

“The sentence passed on him today reflects the severity of what he has done and the risk he poses to women and others in a domestic environment.

“I hope the sentence passed today offers some closure to our victim.

“Domestic abuse, whatever form it takes - is never acceptable and is still very much under reported. If you read this article and you, or someone you know is a victim, please call us. Help is available and we will bring offenders to justice.”