Woman dials 999 while pretending to listen to music to escape partner

Battered girlfriend secretly dialled 999 while pretending to listen to music on her phone to be freed from violent boyfriend as he is jailed for three years for trying to set her on fire

  • Chloe Campbell, 20, escaped violent boyfriend by secretly dialling 999 on walk
  • She pretended to listen to music as she gave police their Rochdale address
  • Billy Walsh, 32, has been jailed for three years after beating her for six hours
  • He doused her in lighter fuel and tried to set her on fire on New Year’s Eve in 2017

A battered girlfriend escaped her violent partner who tried to set her on fire by secretly dialling 999 as she pretended to listen to music, a court heard.

Chloe Campbell, 20, directed police to her house by whispering into her earphone mic while walking through Rochdale, Greater Manchester with boyfriend Billy Walsh, 32.

In her call to emergence services, she said: ‘I can’t say much but I’m being controlled by my boyfriend and I need help. I can direct you to our house, but I need to be careful.’

Ms Campbell then kept the line open as she tricked Walsh into saying he liked her black jacket and bobble hat so the pair could be identified by police.

She then asked Walsh: ‘Shall we walk home past Dunelm, past the fire station and then up our road?’

Officers arrived at the scene minutes later and arrested Walsh after spotting Ms Campbell’s tell-tale outfit that he had inadvertently described to police.

Yesterday Ms Campbell told Minshull Street Crown Court how she was mauled, strangled and doused with lighter fuel by Walsh who vowed to set her alight during a six-hour beating on New Year’s Eve in 2017. He was jailed for three years over the attack.

She said: ‘Billy was the love of my life and I never imagined he would ever want to harm me, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

Chloe Campbell, 20, directed police to her house by whispering into her earphone mic while walking through Rochdale, Greater Manchester with boyfriend Billy Walsh, 32

Yesterday Ms Campbell told Minshull Street Crown Court how she was mauled, strangled and doused with lighter fuel by Walsh who vowed to set her alight during a six-hour beating on New Year’s Eve in 2017. He was jailed for three years over the attack

‘He abused me in the place I called home and I worry that the lockdown measures will mean victims of violent domestic crimes will be totally helpless.

‘What happened to me shows how difficult walking away from an abusive partner can be at the best of times – but I fear the harsh lockdown measures will leave so many victims unable to walk away or escape their perpetrators and will have catastrophic consequences.

‘At one time Billy and I had planned a whole lifetime together, he told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and at first I actually thought I’d struck gold.’

The couple had met in 2016 and they set up home together when she turned 17.

‘As soon as we moved in, he snatched my mobile phone out of my hands, deleted the contact details of friends I’d known for years,’ she said.

‘He would tell me: ‘I’m the only one you need, now, it’s just you and me,’ and even isolated me from my family as he was paranoid that we were talking about him behind his back.

‘In time, Billy began drinking heavily and it turned him into a monster. When I begged him to slow down, he would fly into a rage then whenever he sobered up, he was the perfect partner all over again, so it was very confusing.

‘It was easy to believe his apologies because they seemed so sincere. But I didn’t know back then just how manipulative he was.

‘One night, after he had been drinking, Billy accused me of sleeping with a friend and even though I told him he was wrong and that he was the only one I wanted, he flew into a violent rage. He called me a ‘f***ing dirty slag’, a ‘liar’ and threw an empty beer bottles at me.

‘I could do nothing but stand helplessly as the broken glass collected at my bare feet. I felt so vulnerable, like a child. Then, he slapped me hard across the face and I was heartbroken.

‘I knew Billy could be snappy and unpredictable but I never dreamt he’d lay a finger on me.’

‘Not only did he physically abuse me, but he told me I deserved every slap, kick and punch for being a ‘dirty little slag’. If I dared to ask for mercy it only made things worse.

‘He would tell me he was in charge of the relationship and told me that whenever he was ready to stop, I would have to ‘earn my crown’. It was like living in a nightmare.

‘He called me a ‘worthless whore’ and said: ‘One of these days I’m going to set you on fire’ – I was totally haunted by his threat to set me alight, so I decided to remove the flints from every lighter he kept in the house.’

The attack occurred on New Year’s Eve 2017 after Walsh got drunk, accused her of sleeping with the friend and smashed a games controller into her face.

Walsh, also of Rochdale, admitted engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm

She said: ‘He kept chanting: ‘You’re going to pay,’ like he was possessed. Then he tied me down to our bed, tying my hands together.

‘He straddled me, opened his mouth wide and bit down on my nose until it shattered between his jaws. The pain was unlike anything I had ever felt in my life.

‘Then Billy swung his fist at my face, smashing my cheekbone. He grabbed his open can of cider from nearby and threw its contents over me before kicking me hard in the stomach. I felt my ribs crunch as he laughed and said: ‘I’m going to set you on fire and watch you burn,’ before dousing me in lighter fluid.

‘I closed my eyes tightly and thought ‘this is it; this is how I die’ – then I remembered I had removed the flints from all his lighters. He was so livid that he couldn’t fulfil his twisted vow and for six hours, he held me prisoner.

‘He beat me in any way he could until, eventually, he passed out drunk. As I lay trembling, blood-soaked and terrified, I knew enough was enough.

‘When we went to visit a friend of Billy’s later that day, when he’d finally sobered up, I saw my opportunity. As we left the friend’s house to walk home, I put my headphones in and pretended I was listening to my music.

‘But as Billy walked slightly ahead, I was able to call the police. The emergency services call handler asked me what I was wearing and to describe her location and I asked Billy if he liked my jacket and suggested we walk past the fire station.

‘It was actually very clever, and I was proud of my cunning creativity.’

Walsh, also of Rochdale, admitted engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm but claimed he had a ‘difficult upbringing’.

His lawyer Patrick Williamson said: ‘The victim describes a Jekyll and Hyde personality where he would become physically and mentally abusive.

‘But he has had little in the way of training when it comes to his ability to form relationships with others.’

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