Man jailed after argument leads to assault, death threats

A MAN who threatened to kill his girlfriend during a protracted assault on a Sunshine Coast houseboat has been jailed for four months.

The Maroochydore District Court yesterday heard that Mark Andrew Hitchcock began punching and trying to choke Lisa Wilkes after arguing about mosquitoes and cigarettes near Noosaville.

The court was told that that Ms Wilkes dived into the Noosa River and swam to another houseboat to escape the attack.

Crown prosecutor Alex Stark said the couple had been in a volatile 12-month "on-and-off" relationship before the assault on January 10, 2010.

He described how Mr Hitchcock began hitting her after she chided him for swatting mosquitoes carelessly and could not find any cigarettes for him.

Mr Hitchcock told her: "Your family will have to have a funeral without your body."

"You're dead. You're taking your last breath," he said.

Mr Stark said Ms Wilkes managed to grab a knife and lunge at Mr Hitchcock but missed.

She then dived overboard and swam to another houseboat to take refuge, and hid on the roof of the vessel for a couple of hours when she heard the sound of him rowing past.

The court heard the 48-year-old carpenter had no convictions for violence before the attack, and appeared to have been of good character.

Barrister Robert Glenday said his client had visited a psychologist in 2009 out of concern about the relationship.

Judge David Andrews noted that the attack had a significant emotional affect on Ms Wilkes, a qualified skipper who " now avoids boats because of this episode".

Mr Hitchcock, who pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, was sentenced to 12 months jail, to be suspended after he has served four months.

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