London - A mother was forced to taste all her paranoid boyfriend’s meals in case they were poisoned after he turned her into his ‘zombie slave’.
Kate Gutteridge, 33, said Connor Appleyard was a violent Jekyll and Hyde character who beat her and threatened to kill himself in front of her 13-year-old son if she ever ended the relationship.
Appleyard, 23, has now been jailed for 16 months for coercive behaviour – and is banned from contacting her.
She said he made her eat part of his breakfast, lunch and dinner ‘to check they weren’t laced with poison’.
She added: ‘He was paranoid and thought I’d do bad things to him. He’d accuse me of putting poison or bleach on his food. Even if we went to eat at someone else’s house or out for a meal I’d have eat a bit of his food before him.
‘On one occasion we were at his mum’s house and he made me taste the tea she cooked. It was so awkward, but he would kick off until I tasted it.
‘One time I had put some bleach out for the recycling while I was making tea and I put his tea down. He spat it out after noticing the bleach and wouldn’t eat it – and accused me of putting bleach in his tea.
‘He was an absolute psychopath. I think he wanted to be a gangster or some sort of dictator – or God.
‘I was his slave, but I was the one going to work, cooking his tea, paying for the roof over his head because he didn’t have a job. He made me feel worthless. At the end I was just a zombie.’ After the hearing at Hull Crown Court, she found he had been given a restraining order against a previous girlfriend. Miss Gutteridge was contacted by both his abused former partners.
Miss Gutteridge, a receptionist from Goole in East Yorkshire, met Appleyard at a mutual friend’s barbeque in August 2016. She had no idea of his history of being a ‘possessive monster’, and was soon besotted.
By February 2017 he was living in her home, but she quickly realised his behaviour wasn’t normal and says he began to call her names and abuse her mentally. Despite her concerns, she found herself doing what he wanted so his behaviour wouldn’t upset her son.
She was forbidden to visit friends, and he threatened to stab her male friends if they spoke to her. He also beat her, would often smash up her home and waved knives in her face.
She was punched repeatedly, leaving her with hundreds of bruises all over her body.
Miss Gutteridge said: ‘I wasn’t allowed to talk back or he would strangle me or punch me.
‘He said if I answered him back he would smash up my house or break sentimental things like photos and jewellery.’
Things came to a head in a terrifying episode. Miss Gutteridge said: ‘He turned up at my door in a Scream mask to terrify me and my son, and said he would slit his own throat in front of him if I ended the relationship. He locked us all in the house and said we were all going to die and he’d cut the dog’s head off. This was the final straw.’
The incident left her fearing for her life, so she went to the police in December 2017.
Appleyard was given a seven-year restraining order banning him from contacting her after he pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour.
Sentencing Appleyard, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told him: ‘Your conduct was deplorable. To behave as you did – by making threats, by committing assaults, and worse still, by emotional threats in the presence of a 13-year-old boy – was dreadful.’
Miss Gutteridge said: ‘He made me and my son live every day as if it was going to be our last. We had to stay on his good side because he was a very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character.’