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Aylesford woman who glassed Miss England finalist at Farmhouse pub in West Malling avoids jail

A woman who glassed a Miss England finalist, leaving her with "ugly and horrid" facial scars, has narrowly avoided jail.

China Gold wept in court today, almost two years after the attack, when she was told she would not serve prison time.

Olivia Cooke was left with facial scars after the attack in West Malling
Olivia Cooke was left with facial scars after the attack in West Malling

The 28-year-old businesswoman lost her cool when she clashed with professional golfer and beauty queen Olivia Cooke, 23, and smashed a wine glass in her face, leaving a shard inside.

The two women - who knew each other - had been in the Farmhouse Pub in West Malling in October 2018, when they fell out over jibes made by Gold about boyfriends.

Gold, of London Road in Aylesford, had pleaded not guilty to unlawful wounding but a jury at Maidstone Crown Court convicted her within an hour.

Judge Philip Statman had told the recovery and car repair firm boss to expect an immediate prison sentence, however there was a delay in sentencing caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.

But today - almost two years after the attack - Gold wept in the dock after being told she had escaped going straight to jail.

China Gold was sparred jail following the attack in West Malling
China Gold was sparred jail following the attack in West Malling

Instead, she received an 18 month sentence suspended for two years and will carry out 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.

The judge added: "We are living in the most extraordinary of times and the courts have a duty to take regard to the impact of Covid-19."

She was also ordered to pay £7,000 compensation and was given an order to stay away from her victim for five years.

The judge told her: "Your actions have had a profound effect on your victim, but you are someone who is fragile but on this particular evening the red mist descended on you and you behaved in a way which was unlawful, totally out of character and led to these serious wounds.

"I accept that you are genuinely remorseful for that which you have done."

Julie and Olivia Cooke outside Maidstone Crown Court
Julie and Olivia Cooke outside Maidstone Crown Court

Ms Cooke said in her victim impact statement: "I feel very angry and upset and I know I will have scars. I am very confused as to why China would do this and disfigure me.

"I was in the Miss England competition when the incident took place. Since then I have received problems within the Miss World Competition.

"I received a call from the Miss World Organisation to say they had been made aware by an anonymous caller that I was involved in a fight and they then warned me that unless I could prove my innocence they would disqualify me.

"I felt like an outcast whilst I was taking part and felt guilty.

"The Miss England competition heavily relies on my looks to progress through the competition. Having to look at the scar on a daily basis in the mirror has caused a huge amount of upset and I am not sure I will ever get over without plastic surgery.

China Gold, in sunglasses, leaving court
China Gold, in sunglasses, leaving court

She said the injuries had adversely affected her golfing and modelling careers - and the Professional Golfing Association and the organisers of the Miss England and had also received anonymous calls which threatened her participation in contests.

And she also received hate comments following her uploading of a video on Youtube.

The judge heard how that since the incident she has also lost weight and her golfing skills have been negatively affected.

Ms Cooke revealed part of her golfing role is teaching youngsters and she felt she had to lie about her scar, claiming she received it in a car accident.

Now Ms Cooke needs £5,000 of laser cosmetic surgery for her scar and now needs to wear reading glasses for nerve damage to her eyes which is still numb.

Olivia with her dad Phil Cooke
Olivia with her dad Phil Cooke

Gold had caused "horrific" injuries and left Ms Cooke, 21, from Barming, with glass embedded in her forehead and needing stitches.

During the trial, jurors were told the last orders bell had sounded when the row started.

Ms Cooke told the court Gold made a "crude comment", adding "She just started coming at me verbally, just calling me a slag and a slut and all this, and I am definitely not".

She told the jury how Gold followed her outside the pub, grabbed her by the throat, and hit her twice in the ensuing struggle, "One to break the glass and the second one to cause injury," she said.

It left Ms Cooke with two wounds needing five stitches - but Gold claimed she had no memory of the incident and her later account was rejected by the jury.

Olivia Cooke at the semi finals of Miss England. Picture: Julie Cooke
Olivia Cooke at the semi finals of Miss England. Picture: Julie Cooke

After the incident Olivia's mum Julie hit Gold, knocking her head against a wall and has admitted a charge of assault. She received an 18 month conditional discharge in July.

Olivia was also charged with assault, but no evidence was offered and the charge dropped by the CPS.

Robin Griffiths, defending, said Gold had saved £7,000 in earnings which could be used as compensation.

"She is devastated by the publicity - she misbehaved in the heat of the moment but that's not the sort of person she is."

The judge said he accepted she is not the kind of person who "goes out pubbing and clubbing" and now suffers from PTSD as a result of being bullied as a child.

Speaking outside the court, Miss Cooke said she 'didn't really expect' Gold to go to jail.

She added: "It has been two long years and I am glad it is over. The case has caused a lot of stress for me and my family."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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Read more: All the latest news from Malling

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