A ‘devious, dishonest, violent and deeply narcissistic’ man has been jailed after slashing his former partner’s wrist and throat.

Darryl Harding, 53, from Welwyn Garden City, told the woman they were both going to die before the attack.

St Albans Crown Court heard the wounding came at the end of a six-year relationship in which he had beaten the victim several times.

Read More: Plans for new 17-storey Watford General Hospital unanimously backed

Harding had smashed her phones because he did not want anyone talking to her. He set fire to her curtains and killed the family’s pet turtles.

He also smashed TVs, mirrors and photos and punched holes in the kitchen and hall walls.

Prosecutor Philip Misner described Harding as: “Devious, dishonest violent and deeply narcissistic.”

He said during the relationship with the woman: “He belittled her to destroy her self-esteem. He made her feel small and worthless.’

He went on: “He threatened to burn a neighbour’s house down because the neighbour had helped her clean up after one of his violent tantrums – nothing, of course, would be his fault.”

Harding also lied to the victim to stop her talking to a friend by saying he (Harding) was having an affair with the neighbour. He told the woman’s husband that his wife was seeing somebody else also in an attempt to stop her from speaking to the victim.

The victim reported him to the police in April last year and he was bailed and told not to have any contact with her.

Despite the bail conditions, they met at the Chieftain Pub in Welwyn Garden City. She recorded some of the conversation in which the prosecutor said he “treated her with contempt” and “put her down.”

After they left the Chieftain, they went on to the Homestead Court Hotel in the town where he complained he had been “stitched up.”

The prosecutor went on: “He smashed the TV in the room. He punched the shower screen when she was in the bath, seized her in the bath and started to strangle her. “

The jury was told the noise led to the police being called. When the officers arrived she said everything was okay. He was arrested for breach of bail and bailed again telling officers: “This is what happens when you break up with your girlfriend.”

When questioned, he denied assaulting her, saying she was lying and setting him up.

Detective Constable Erik Gale from the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit said: “This is one of the worst cases of domestic abuse I have ever seen.

“She thought Harding would actually kill her and after he stabbed her and then himself in January this year, he told her that they were both going to die that night.

“But it wasn’t just the physical abuse she endured, he also controlled her every move and he also used gaslighting tactics so she became a shadow of her former self.”

DC Gale added: “Harding is violent, controlling and deceptive and I’m pleased he has been sentenced. The victim was extremely brave to come forward and give evidence and is very much looking forward to starting to re-build her life with ongoing support and counselling. She said she is very grateful for police involvement and that we saved her life.”

“Please seek help if you are experiencing domestic abuse; we have a team of specialist officers who can help, or you can contact the DA helpline.”

Harding was the bailed to a friend’s address. and the woman visited him there on Saturday January, 30, this year.

Mr Misner said: “The two of them drank wine. He started shouting at her saying he was worried about going to prison and that she was seeing another man.”

After telling her: “We are both going to die tonight”, he had sex with the woman. The prosecutor said he continued to talk about the other man before she saw him go over to a bookcase.

“Standing with a leg on each side of her he slashed her right wrist and cut her throat with a Stanley knife. He then slashed at his own neck when the others became involved,” said Mr Misner.

The woman locked herself in a bathroom until the police arrived. Harding was arrested and taken to St Mary’s Hospital in London where he received stitches to his neck. When two police officers went to take him to custody in Hertfordshire he grabbed a pair of scissors. When one of the officers took the scissors away, Harding ran off.

He was chased through the hospital but came to some locked doors and was arrested after Parva spray had been used on him. He answered no comment to police questions on that occasion.

Harding, of Little Hardings, Welwyn Garden City, was cleared of attempted murder on 31 January 2021 but convicted of the alternative charge of wounding with intent. He was also convicted of controlling or coercive behaviour from 29 December 2015 to 8 October 2020 and attempted escape. He continues to deny the offences, the court heard.

Defending, Andrew Herd said Harding, a brick-layer and painter and decorator, had a difficult childhood and had sought help for issues with anxiety and depression.

If you’re looking for a way to stay up to date with the latest breaking news from around Hertfordshire, the HertsLive newsletter is a good place to start.

The twice-daily update will deliver the top news and features straight to your inbox.

We choose the most important stories of the day to include in the newsletter, including crime, court news, long reads, traffic and travel, food and drink articles and more.

Signing up to the newsletter is simple. All you have to do is to click here and type in your email address.

It’s one of the many ways that you can read the news that matters to you from HertsLive.

Yesterday (Wednesday, July 28) Judge Stephen Warner passed an eight and a half year jail sentence with a four year extended sentence because he considered him a dangerous offender.

The judge said he had caused a dreadful cut to the woman’s wrist and injuries to her thigh and neck.

He told him: “You indulged in a course of controlling coercive behaviour characterised by damage to property, physical and emotion and abuse and controlling behaviour fuelled by jealousy.

“You displayed erratic, extremely callous behaviour towards her. The effect on her self-esteem and self-confidence makes sobering reading and she has required psychiatric help.”

The judge made an order banning him from contacting the victim indefinitely.

Coercive or controlling behaviour is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

Clare’s Law gives people a right to know or a right to ask police whether a partner has a violent past. If you live in Hertfordshire you can apply online.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, you can visit for advice and support, or call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088, which is open weekdays from 9am to 9pm and weekends from 9am to 4pm. If you feel your life is in danger, always dial 999.

Want the latest Herts news direct to your inbox? Sign up here