A FORMER soldier obsessed with gory horror films who “tortured” his girlfriend by waterboarding her during a sustained period of shocking abuse has been jailed.

Gareth Thomas’ partner lived in fear of him for years and “assumed” he would one day kill her after he subjected her to regular beatings.

The forms of torment inflicted on his victim would often take bizarre turns.


On one occasion he forced his victim to perform punishing exercise drills of press-ups and sit-ups while throwing food at her.

Prosecutor Harry Baker said on another, the physically imposing Thomas made her wear boxing gloves and would batter her during what were plainly “uneven” fighting contests.

Thomas, 37, formerly of Newport, now of Upper Waun Street, Blaenavon, was found guilty by a jury of controlling and coercive behaviour and three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was cleared of two counts of wounding with intent and two of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The defendant had denied all charges and labelled the accusations against him as “ridiculous”.

Mr Baker said Thomas had accused the woman of having sex with someone else in the shower and had “waterboarded her”.

He told the court: “He put a pillow over her head, taped it over her and started pouring water over her.

“She is unsure how long it lasted. He told her, ‘Stop playing your silly games and tell the truth.’”

At the defendant’s sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, the victim’s impact statement was read to the court by Mr Baker.

She said: “I have spent half my life feeling trapped and under the control of Gareth Thomas.

“I spent my entire twenties living in fear of him. I just assumed one day he would kill me.”

She revealed how he was “obsessed with gory horror films” and that her family is “petrified of him”.

Nigel Fryer, mitigating, said: “The defendant spent a number of years in the military and they have shaped his life.”

He added that Thomas, who had served his country overseas, was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but showed “some signs of obsessive behaviour”.

His barrister asked the court to keep the inevitable custodial sentence as short as possible.

Speaking about the waterboarding attack, the judge, Recorder Caroline Rees QC, said: “This was a terrible incident that must have caused no end of psychological harm and terror.

“This was a cold and calculated act of violence. You tortured her after you accused her of sexual infidelity.

“You taped a pillowcase over her head and poured water upon her to mimic the effect of drowning – she must have been terrified.”

The judge said his victim was “dominated” by Thomas who had shrouded her in an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation”.

She added: “She was clearly terrified of you. You degraded and humiliated her.

“You should be ashamed to the core of the damage that you caused to that woman’s life.”

Thomas was jailed for a total of four years.