Ex-Happy Mondays star Bez 'attacked girlfriend in missing cash row'
Former Happy Mondays star Bez was today convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend at their home after a row over money.
He accused the mother of his two-year-old son of stealing cash from him and then flew into a rage as he grabbed her neck with both hands and throttled her.
Former partner Monica Ward told Manchester magistrates that he was "looking insane" as he squeezed her neck and she feared for her life.
She said he then threatened to kill her after she alerted police.
Bez - real name Mark Berry who found fame for his freaky dancing in the popular band of the 80s and 90s - claimed he acted in self defence and later labelled the hearing as a "kangaroo court".
The argument broke out at their flat in Whalley Range, Manchester, following a dispute over the whereabouts of takings from a concert the night before.
The pair, who were in a band called Domino Bones at the time, were paid £300 but some of the cash was missing the next day on May 24.
Bez, a past winner of Celebrity Big Brother, confronted Miss Ward, the band's lead singer, when he could not find the money.
Giving evidence, the former model said: "He accused me of stealing money which I did not. I told him he had put down the money somewhere and forgotten where he had put it, he has a history of mislaying things.
"It is ridiculous to steal my own wages off my own family."
She said he dragged her from the kitchen to the front door and was trying to "chuck her out" of the home.
"He had both hands around my neck, he was just looking insane and squeezing me for about five seconds," she said.
"I felt as if my life was in danger for the first time so I called the police. I did not think he was going to stop.
"He told me he was going to kill me before the police arrived."
She added their son was in tears as he witnessed the incident.
Bez left the property before he returned a short time later and then kicked the door down as he demanded money, she said.
"He picked up £20, laughed at me, said 'ha ha', then ran off and went off on his push bike," she said.
Satpal Roth, prosecuting, asked her how she had felt about both incidents.
She replied: "I felt why I had got involved with this nutcase. Totally scared and gutted that my son was witnessing all this behaviour from his father."
The court heard the pair had been in a relationship for six years but split up following the money row.
Miss Ward said she had previously been a victim of domestic violence at his hands and that he had thrown her out of the house on about 10 previous occasions.
She agreed there had been aggression on both sides in the past but hers was due to self-defence.
The complainant also accepted that Bez's assault was a "gentle throttle".
Bez told the court that he had hidden the money and woke up to find some of it scattered around and most of it missing He then said he discovered a statement which showed savings in his son's bank account had been withdrawn.
"This is a recurring event with our family's money disappearing. I said I have had enough and I'm leaving," he said.
"She was holding on to me and pulling me by my shirt. She was getting increasingly violent towards me.
"There was no battering, no throttling, that is her fabrication."
He explained she blocked his path and that he pushed her out of the way before leaving.
Bez said he later returned to the flat because he was wandering the streets wearing only a pair of nylon shorts and a T-shirt.
He said he merely pushed the door open with his shoulder and it collapsed.
Addressing the magistrates, he said: "She has always been violent towards me.
"I loved the woman, I loved her with all my heart. I have forgiven and forgotten so many times.
"I have some strange loyalty towards her. The truth is horrific.
"I have told the truth to the best of my ability and I hope you believe my version of events.
"I feel as if my reputation as a man has been destroyed.
"The last few months I have felt like a rapist.
"I feel my soul has been ripped out of me."
Magistrates convicted Bez of the assault and using unlawful to gain entry into a property.
Chair of the bench Marie Cash said they found Miss Ward a "credible" and "convincing" witness.
She added: "We are not saying it was a deliberate attack but we do believe that a technical assault took place.
"We consider this to be at the lower end of the scale."
Following the decision Bez told the bench: "I am appealing this decision to a higher court.
"It's a kangaroo court, that's what I think."
Sentencing takes place on August 25.
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