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New Mills man was “possessed by devil”

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A Newtown woman claimed her husband attacked her because he was possessed by the devil, a court heard.

Antony Berry was convicted of two counts of assault by beating following a trial at High Peak Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The 52-year-old, now of Albion Road, New Mills, will be sentenced on September 8.

The court heard that victim Claire Berry, a devout pre-Vatican Catholic, believed her husband’s violent behaviour was due to him being Satan.

Prosecutor John Cooper said that in the first incident, on February 5, the defendant returned home early from work to the couple’s address on Buxton Road at 9.35pm.

After arguing about whether he had been with another woman, Berry grabbed his wife by the throat on a least two occasions and threw her across the room, as well as telling her he was going to kill her.

He admitted having drunk up to eight pints and losing his temper at his wife.

Mrs Berry told magistrates that she believed he had been possessed by demons for 25 months and had thrust a crucifix in his face.

Her sister, Marie O’Flynn, who was also present, testified that she held rosary beads and threw holy water over the defendant to subdue him.

The second incident occurred on 15 March, after the defendant returned home drunk at 1.05am. Berry told the court he consumed eight pints and had been playing snooker at Chalkers with his brother.

After a row in the bedroom about where he had been, he grabbed her by the neck, punching her face, as well as twisting her ankle.

Mrs Berry, 54, told the court: “I said to him: ‘You’re not Tony!’ He replied: ‘No, I’m Satan, Prince of Darkness.’”

She added on that night she was “too afraid” to stay in the house, sleeping under some carpets in the garden.

When questioned, the victim added she had arranged for her husband to see an exorcist in France in the past because he had signed a pact with the devil, aged 24.

John Bunting, defending, put it to the court that his client, who admitted injuring his wife, had acted in self defence.

He said on both occasions the complainant had started the fight, after bringing up Berry’s affair from 2011.

Mr Bunting added that she had also been drinking and that alcohol mixed with her stress medication could have caused hallucinations.

On cross examining Mrs Berry, he said her husband’s comments about being Satan could have been “ironical”.

Chairman of the Bench Gerry Tootell found Berry guilty of both charges, adjourning the case for sentence.


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