Suicide follows brutal attack

Antoinette "Toni" Brown, from Preston, who was found dead on June 18, 2012, after being attacked three weeks earlier.
Antoinette "Toni" Brown, from Preston, who was found dead on June 18, 2012, after being attacked three weeks earlier.

Mum-of-three Antoinette Brown took her own life three weeks after being brutally beaten and scarred for life in a “nasty, brutal, sustained and unjustified” attack.

The grieving family of Antoinette Brown said the 37-year-old would not let her family see her injuries following the attack.

Judge Edward Byrne, sentencing one of her attackers to 32 months in prison at Preston Crown Court, said that while no legal link can be found between death and the attack, the emotional impact may have contributed. Patrick Gray, 30, of Skipton Street, Morecambe, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, but said he was trying to defend his co-defendant and girlfriend Natalie Finley, who was pregnant at the time.

However, he was also sentenced for assaulting Finley just a few weeks later.

Antoinette, a former care home worker who was known as Toni to her loved ones, was found dead on June 18. Judge Byrne said: “The victim’s death was not attributable in a legal sense to the attack. There was no causal connection between the attack and the victim’s death.”

But he said he accepted the events may have contributed to the “mental fragility” of the victim.

The court heard how Antoinette, from Preston, had been involved in an argument with Finley’s mother in a city centre pub on May 24 last year.

After she left the pub she phoned Finley, 30, and was invited to her home to resolve matters. In the early hours of May 25 she went to Finley’s house on Dallas Street, Plungington. Gray locked the door behind her.

Antoinette was then kicked and punched to her head by Gray and Finley after the two women started arguing, and was repeatedly assaulted as she lay on the floor and tried to crawl to the door.

Her devastated father Tony Brown, 68, who tearfully watched the proceedings from the public gallery, said: “No sentence will ever be long enough. Antoinette was a lovely person, with three beautiful children.”

Gray, who has 45 offences on his record including violence, pleaded guilty on the basis that he was trying to protect his pregnant girlfriend.

The court heard Antoinette suffered severe bruising and lacerations to her face and had to have surgery for a wound that reopened.

Finley will be sentenced for her role in the attack at a later date and is due to appear before the court on March 7.