EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 6, 2014

City man charged with assaulting pregnant niece

She testifies he injured her abdomen, attacked other women

HAVERHILL — A man is charged with attacking his pregnant niece, causing injuries to her abdomen, and also striking other female family members while he was in a drunken rage.

The 24-year-old niece said she was 19 weeks pregnant when, on the night of Feb. 22, her uncle, Robert Laing, 49, lashed out at her, her sister and their mother, who is Laing’s sister.

Her testimony came yesterday in Haverhill District Court, where Laing was ordered held without bail.

The woman unborn child is apparently all right, she said.

Calling it the “scariest night of her life,” the pregnant woman testified that Laing had been drinking that night and that he suddenly became enraged and pushed her into a couch and pinned her there.

She said that when her sister came to her aid, Laing punched the sister in the face. Laing then turned on his sister, who had come to the aid of her two daughters, the pregnant woman said. Laing allegedly grabbed the woman by the throat and pushed her face into the couch, making it difficult to breath. The struggle ended when the mother and daughter who was punched in the face held Laing down on the floor and waited for police to arrive.

Police arrested Laing and charged him with attempted murder, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, simple assault and battery, and failure to register as a sex offender.

At a dangerousness hearing yesterday for Laing in Haverhill District Court, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Patten asked Judge Patricia Dowling to consider Laing as a danger to the community and to hold him without bail.

Patten said Laing has a lengthy criminal history that includes a 2006 charge of pushing a 12-year-old child into a fence, for which he was sentenced to one year probation, and a charge in 1989 of indecent assault and battery, for which he received a two year suspended sentence. Patten said Laing has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and that drinking may have triggered the alleged recent assault on his family.

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