Violent thug who left British Olympic skier too scared to go out jogging after threatening to 'drag her out by the hair' walks free from court

  • Amanda Lightfoot intervened after Hayley Cole Thomson was hit in a row
  • Mark Laidler, 35, struck the 27-year-old over the head after a night out 
  • Miss Lightfoot, a biathlete, went to Miss Thomson's home to support her
  • Laidler then threatened to drag the Team GB star, also 27, 'out by her hair'  
  • Miss Lightfoot subsequently asked for a restraining order in fear of Laidler  
  • He was given a suspended sentence at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court 

By Wills Robinson for MailOnline

A violent thug who threatened to drag a British Olympic skier 'by her hair', leaving her too scared to train, has today walked free from court.

Biathlete Amanda Lightfoot, 27, said she stopped going out jogging after the terrifying confrontation with Mark Laidler, the former partner of her friend Hayley Claire Thomson, also 27. 

The Team GB star from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, tried to intervene in a row between the pair when 35-year-old Laidler hit Miss Thomson over the head when she returned from a night out in Newcastle.

Amanda Lightfoot, 27, (pictured left at the Sochi Winter Olympics) said she was too afraid to train in South Tyneside following the terrifying confrontation with Mark Laidler, 35 (right)

Miss Thomson, who was lying in her bed when she was struck, then retreated to her spare bedroom where she texted the athlete in fear, South Tyneside Magistrates Court heard.

The next day, concerned Miss Lightfoot - who competed at this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi - arrived at the pair's home to support her friend.

But trouble flared again and Laidler kicked a table at his partner, hitting her on the right arm, before telling Amanda: 'You'd better shut up or I'll drag you out by the hair'.

After the terrifying confrontation, the court was told the athlete applied for a restraining order against the defendant because she regularly went running in the South Tyneside area - and was fearful he would approach her.

Laidler admitted two charges of assault by beating against her former lover and a common assault - the verbal attack - on Miss Lightfoot.

District Judge Helen Cousins gave Laidler an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and only granted a restraining order in respect of Miss Thompson.

In a victim statement read in court, Miss Lightfoot said: 'He threatened to drag me out of the house by my hair. I was terrified he was going to hit me.'

Frightened Miss Thomson added: 'The relationship was often violent. He was physically and emotionally abusive. I felt frightened and scared.'

The court heard the first assault against Hayley happened at the home she shared with Laidler in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, after she enjoyed a night out in Newcastle on April 8.

The Team GB star, who became the first British female to compete in the Olympic biathlon in Russia, asked for a restraining order against Laidler after he threatened to 'drag her out by the hair' 

The Team GB star, who became the first British female to compete in the Olympic biathlon in Russia earlier this year, asked for a restraining order against Laidler after he threatened to 'drag her out by the hair' 

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: 'Miss Thomson had been out with friends in Newcastle and arrived home at about midnight, scared and frightened because of an earlier row.

'She found the door was locked and rang Laidler's phone to be let in. He was swearing. She said she didn't dare say anything. She got into bed next to him and was struck in the head and the ear. She said her ears were ringing.

'When her friend arrived the next morning, the defendant was very abusive and told Miss Thomson to get her stuff and get out.

'He kicked a table towards Miss Thomson, hitting her in the arm and was verbally abusive to her friend.'

She was treated in hospital for swelling and pain to her neck.

Paul Kennedy, defending, said: 'This incident was the culmination of this relationship starting to break down over a period of months.

'He had lost employment and was not able to bring money into the property. He said in the weeks leading up to this incident he had asked her to leave the property as the relationship was effectively over. He can only apologise. He is ashamed about his behaviour.'

Laidler, of Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, was also ordered to pay compensation of £200 to each victim, court costs of £320 and an £80 victim surcharge.

Miss Lightfoot became the first British female athlete to compete in the gruelling biathlon event for eight years when she contested the 7.5km sprint in Russia.

The biathlon combines cross country skiing with shooting, testing competitors' mental and physical abilities under extreme pressure.


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