Jail for abusive fiancé who forced Manchester actress to hide bruises under costume

An actress who starred in a series of Manchester theatre productions whilst secretly hiding a string of beatings from her violent fiancé went public today to reveal how she helped put him in jail.

Beverley Stuart-Cole, 48, would hide her injuries under her theatre costumes after falling victim to the violent rages of obsessed builder Paul Conway. The 46-year old was so possessive of Ms Stuart-Cole he even saw red when he learned she had been asked to go nude in a stage play about the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho at The Garrick Theatre in Altrincham.

In a series of rows Conway would punch, throttle and kick his bride-to-be during separate attacks. In one, he physically lifted up Ms Stuart-Cole as she sat at her desk then dragged her to the kitchen before grabbing her by the throat with such force that she was left with finger marks across her neck.

On another occasion he thumped her on the arm when he thought she was browsing dating sites and even chased her upstairs in her own home before unleashing more blows. A day after the last attack Ms Stuart-Cole eventually broke off her relationship with Conway and bravely posted a defiant message on her Facebook page saying: ”I’m still standing folks. And always will.”

Later in a statement given to police she said the attacks have left her a frightened woman with a deep distrust of men who is now ‘ridiculously sensitive’ to any sudden noise.

Today Ms Stuart-Cole spoke of her ordeal after twice married Conway, of Sale, was jailed for 20 weeks and banned from contacting her for two years after he was convicted of three counts of assault. He was also ordered to pay her £400 compensation.

BEHIND BARS: Violent ‘sociopath’ Paul Conway was sentenced to 20 weeks behind bars and banned from contacting his ex 
(© Facebook, with thanks)

She said: “I think he is a sociopath and cannot maintain a normal relationship with anyone. We were planning our wedding and I thought I was in love with him but he turned into a nutter and just changed. It was like a coin flipped over and he became a different person.

”He was jealous and possessive and he even didn’t want me to do the scenes in the Hitchcock blonde play as they of a quite explicit nature. During another show he was vile to me and I had bruises on my arms. Luckily I was wearing long gloves in the show so nobody could see the bruises.

”People say I’m a strong person but I don’t think I am. I’m just ecstatic he’s gone to prison because it’s definitely what he deserves and hopefully it will stop him doing it to anybody else. He is a nasty man. To anyone suffering domestic violence I would say absolutely get the hell out and don’t listen to a word of their excuses.”

Trafford Magistrates Court heard Conway and Ms Stuart-Cole had been in a relationship for just one year after meeting in a pub in July 2012. He proposed in February of last year.

Ms Stuart-Cole, who won a best actress prize for her role in An Inspector Calls, played Mrs Robinson in The Graduate and appeared in Calendar Girls, added: ”He was charming and generous but almost too charming – always buying rounds for everybody and showering me with gifts.”

”The first time he went mad was when I was sending an innocent message to an ex-boyfriend. He chased me up the stairs and threw me on the bed and pinned me down. He had one hand round my throat and was yelling over nothing.

”I used to find myself apologising and would smooth it over and sometimes he would apologise and say he was stressed and say he was sorry. But other times he wouldn’t accept he was in the wrong. It’s really hard when someone you love slaps you and is horrible.

”We broke up in November last year. We had been to a funeral and he was staying here and he kicked me really hard. I started crying and said ‘stop doing that’ and he stormed off. For days after we finished I could barely go down to the bins and would have to lock the door behind me.

”I was constantly looking behind me and if I was on my own and there was a loud noise I would jump. If I heard footsteps I was panicking and I wasn’t sleeping. it was horrible and the stress has a horrible effect on you. It makes you paranoid and all this has left me with a distrust of men. I also have very graphic nightmares and have become ridiculously sensitive to any noise I hear.”

In court, prosecutor Annabelle Hartley said Ms Stuart-Cole had called the police twice previously over Conway but on each occasion withdrew her statement. After the third attack, she pursued action and gave evidence against Conway.

She said: “In one incident he lunged at her when she was running upstairs and followed her into the bedroom, pushed her on the bed, kicked her hand down and grabbed her by the jaw causing red marks. He punched her to the upper arm causing bruises then left the premises.”

”In the next incident the defendant is drunk and asleep. The complainant goes to use the computer and he wakes up, looking to see what she is doing. He believes she is writing a message to a previous boyfriend so lifts her up and carries her into the kitchen, grabs her by the throat and punches her to the arm, takes her to the floor and kicks her to the thigh.

“She sustained finger marks to her throat, bruising to her arm and a large bruise to her thigh. On October 20 the victim and the defendant are at her house and she is using the computer when he believes she is on a dating site and he this time punches her to the right arm causing pain and bruising.

“On November 25 they are at her home on the sofa when there is an argument between the two and he kicks out and causes a large bruise to her thigh.”

Conway, who plans to appeal against his conviction, denied wrongdoing. His lawyer, Miss Rachel Good, said: “It’s sad when a relationship comes to an end but it is clear there has been no contact since last year. He is under no illusions as to how matters of domestic violence are looked upon in these courts.”

Sentencing, JP David Collins said: “This was consistent violence on three separate occasions. The violence occurred in the victim’s home and we have heard about the impact it has had on her. You have showed no remorse.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Main image courtesy of Mickey Thurman, other images courtesy of Facebook

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