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Francis Dowland of Easthampton sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting former girlfriend

Francis “Frank” Dowland, 41, of 26 Center St., pleaded guilty before Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson to charges of aggravated assault and battery, two counts of intimidation of a witness and one count of violating a restraining order.

His three years in state prison will be reduced by 266 days already served while awaiting trial. His prison time was postponed until Tuesday to allow family to visit him in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton before he is transferred to state prison in Walpole.

Dowland admitted that during an argument on Oct. 2, 2012, he punched his then-girlfriend in her left eye hard enough to cause her to lose consciousness.

The victim was discovered in her home by a friend who contacted police after seeing the injuries, which included a broken eye socket and multiple bruises on her arms and legs, according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, who prosecuted the case.

Dowland’s attorney, Elaine Pourinski of Northampton, said in court Tuesday that Dowland suffered injuries at the hands of the victim during the argument, including cuts and bruises, and would have presented a self-defense argument if the case had gone to trial.

Dowland admitted while he was in custody on the assault charge, he wrote two letters to the victim asking her not to testify in court and to “plead the Fifth” if she did.

A third letter mailed around Nov. 6 violated a restraining order the woman had taken out against Dowland after she received the first two letters, Suhl said.

Suhl said the woman has lasting damage from the assault, including the need for a permanent plate behind her eye, double vision, a loss of some peripheral vision and blind spots in her left eye.

Dowland, who wept softly during part of his sentencing hearing and placed his head on the table where he was seated, expressed “extreme remorse” for the assault, Pourinski said in court. He said Dowland did not intend to cause the injuries.

Dowland, who has a history of domestic assault convictions and restraining orders taken out against him, will be on probation for three years after his prison sentence is complete.

The victim, who was present in court but did not speak, submitted an impact statement in which she said she hopes Dowland will get mental health treatment.

Josephson read a portion of the victim’s statement aloud in court: “Frankie is a good guy and means well. We wish him the best.”

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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