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Former semi-pro footballer imprisoned and attacked partner
A convicted sex offender and thug who physically abused and imprisoned his girlfriend after she was 10 minutes late coming home threatened to “dig up” her dead mother and “s*** in her ashes”.
Former semi-professional footballer Luke Thomas, also known as Luke Leto, was described as being “domineering, threatening and controlling” in relation to his relationship with Maria Wheeler during most of 2017 and the beginning of 2018.
During this period 28-year-old Thomas controlled every aspect of his relationship with Ms Wheeler, forcing her cease contact with her friends, family and her own children, as well as falsely imprisoning her in their bedroom when she arrived home 10 minutes late.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday heard Thomas, of Cardiff, had a number of previous convictions related to attacking his former partners while in a relationship with them as well as attacking a five-year-old child and also a grandmother of a former partner.
He was also jailed for two years for inciting a child under 13 years old to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard Thomas and Ms Wheeler met each other over the internet at the end of 2016 and became involved in a relationship but the defendant was recalled to prison in March 2017 due to him breaching his sexual harm prevention order.
When he was released in June 2017 he and Ms Wheeler lived at his flat in Heol-y-Berllan, Caerau.
Despite an initial happy period Thomas became possessive and started restricting her access to friends and family, the court heard.
Ms Wheeler was prevented from seeing her children and her sisters whom she was particularly close to.
Thomas made his partner take out payday loans and telephone contracts in her name for his benefit and harassed her with texts and emails.
On another occasion he threatened to “knock her out”.
In his sentencing remarks Judge Timothy Brennan QC said: “In August 2017 Ms Wheeler came home 10 minutes late and you were outraged and asked her if she had been ‘shagging’ men in work.
“She went to the bathroom but you pulled her out by her hair and slammed the door so the handle came off. You secured the window and punched her to her stomach, back, and ribs.
“You wouldn’t let her leave the bedroom and said: ‘You’re not going anywhere’. She had lumps and bruises on her legs and head.
“She was imprisoned by you by dragging her into the bedroom and she was prevented from leaving by you.”
The court heard Ms Wheeler made a complaint at work the following day but she did not contact the police because she was too afraid of the consquences. When Thomas picked her up from work he said: “Let’s not talk about the past”.
On another occasion, when Ms Wheeler had gone to stay with her sister, Thomas followed her and bombarded her with texts threatening to kill himself.
In October 2017 there was an argument where Thomas made a number of upsetting remarks to Ms Wheeler, including threatening to “dig up” her deceased mother and “s*** in her ashes”, as well as holding a kitchen knife to her throat and damaging objects including photographs of her mother. He also strangled her until she “saw stars”.
On another occasion he struck her against a wall which caused Ms Wheeler to develop a visible lump on her head but she told doctors she hit her head on a cupboard.
He was also financially abusive after taking Ms Wheeler’s car and refused to give it back until her sister had paid him £200 and when she left him he turned up at her workplace and had to be removed by security.
In January this year there was another argument where the defendant threatened Ms Wheeler with a kitchen knife, hit her hand with a block of wood he kept in their bedroom, and put her in a headlock.
Ms Wheeler later reported Thomas to the police and, following a trial, he was eventually found guilty of using controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship and false imprisonment.
In a victim personal statement read out to the court by prosecutor Rosamund Rutter Ms Wheeler said her mental health had been “severely impacted” during the course of the relationship and it still affects her in day-to-day life.
She said her life had been “greatly disrupted” by Thomas turning up at her work and causing a scene and had even cup up a uniform to prevent her from going.
Sentencing, Judge Brennan added: “I am completely sure your relationship with Ms Wheeler was domineering, threatening and controlling both with threats to her with the use of weapons and threats of what you’d do to yourself should she leave you.
“You represent a risk of serious harm towards the complainant in this case and towards previous and future partners.
“In my judgement there’s a significant risk of serious harm to the public of further unspecified offences. You are somebody who is violent and controlling towards women who would have been in an interim relationship.”
Thomas, of Heol-y-Berllan, Caerau, was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment and was ordered to serve a further two years on licence.