A catalogue of abuse has been described to a court during the start of trial in Cornwall this week – including allegations of rape, controlling behaviour and forcing a urine-soaked toothbrush into the mouth of the alleged victim.

Matthew James Gardner, from the Isles of Scilly but currently living in Redruth, stands trial at Truro Crown Court on 14 charges.

These include:

  • Nine charges of rape.
  • Assault by penetration with a part of his body.
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Due to reporting restrictions, much of the detail regarding the allegations against Gardner cannot be made public.

The prosecution opened their case by saying Gardner created “a climate of fear and control” that he used to gain sexual gratification.

In video evidence, played to the jury, the complainant described Gardner “love bombing” her, by turning up to her place of work and telling her: “I’ve never felt this way about someone before.”

Not long after meeting him she became ill, but despite telling him she didn’t want to see him he insisted on staying the night, before proceeding to have sex with her the next morning – despite her pleas for him to stop, she claimed. 

She said: “I kept saying to him ‘Please don’t, I don’t want to’ but he said, ‘Just relax, I can’t help myself, I’m so attracted to you’.”

A few days later she told him they needed to talk, but he insisted on driving and took them to a remote lane to park up.

She described him “smashing his head on the steering wheel” and telling her “I really like you and I’ve messed it up. I don’t know what I’ll do to myself. It’s only because of such strong feelings I had for you,” before going on to add: “Aren’t you overreacting a little bit?”

After this, she said, he was kind to her, adding: “I thought 'Maybe he did just get carried away and he does regret it, and it’s not him'.”

She described Gardner as being “obsessed with the gym”. At one point she underwent a major medical procedure in hospital but told the court that the very next morning he made her “go out and do an hour and a half of cardio”, even when she was bleeding through her clothes, telling her: “You don’t want to be sat around eating biscuits. You have got to f***ing work for it.”

She alleged that he also insisted that she give him oral sex, despite her still recovering, and prevented her from doing anything else until she completed it.

The woman said Gardner had told her she had been in the marines, but was discharged with a knee injury.

However, she said: “I found out from his mother that wasn’t the case. He had gone in to basic training and they asked him to leave as it wasn’t working out.”

She said there had been times when he had thrown plates at her, and taken his work boots and “whacked them against my head, roaring in my face.”

“He had a personality in public of being really loving and affectionate, but behind closed doors it was a really different kettle of fish,” she added.

In the video evidence, during which the woman could be seen visibly sobbing, she recalled how on one occasion she was forced to put a bag of frozen peas on herself, due to the pain caused by one sexual encounter.

On another, she said he grabbed a sock and “rammed it in my mouth”, put his hand on the back of her head and then raped her. She claimed that afterwards he told her: “No one is going to believe you if you tell anyone about this.”

During a different time, he raped her and then spat on her, she said.

And she alleged: “One time he tried to put his fist inside of me. I started screaming. He grabbed my throat and said, ‘If you don’t shut up I’ll snap your neck’.”

The court heard that once she was brushing her teeth when Gardner grabbed her toothbrush, threw it in the toilet, urinated on it and then rammed it in her mouth.

On a different occasion, she said, he pushed her head into the toilet, although not the water, and had sex with her.

One evening she heard someone “hammering” on her kitchen window, and another time she opened her door to find ‘RIP’ written on it.

When asked what went through her mind at that point, she replied: “To have ‘RIP’ on my door, what’s he going to do? Is he going to kill me? Because I think he could be capable of that.”

After that she moved to a different location.

The case for the defence is due to begin on Thursday.

The trial continues.