AMESBURY, Mass. — A New Hampshire man accused of attacking a woman while driving on Interstate 495 more than a year ago was sentenced by a Newburyport District Court judge to 18 months in jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty to assault and battery of a household member.

Christopher O'Brien, 35, of Lancelot Court, Salem, N.H., saw all but 97 days of his sentence, which he already served, suspended for two years while he's on probation. During his time on probation, O'Brien must stay away from and have no contact with his victim, stay out of trouble with the law and pay $450 in fees and fines.

O'Brien was initially arrested by Hampton Falls, N.H., police in September on domestic violence offenses in that community and later extradited to Massachusetts to face the Amesbury-based charges, according to court records.

State Trooper Ryan Cooney was patrolling the Amesbury portion of the three-lane highway on Nov. 18, 2019, around 12:30 a.m. when he saw a man standing next to a woman sitting cross-legged in the breakdown lane. The Good Samaritan who was checking on her told Cooney that she had been attacked while in a car and jumped out of the moving vehicle to get away from her attacker.

"I observed bruising under both of (the victim's) eyes, blood in her mouth and on her left ear," Cooney wrote in his report.

After calling dispatch to send an ambulance, Cooney asked who hit her. She refused to answer. A few minutes later, she was taken to a Seabrook medical facility by an Amesbury Fire Department ambulance.

There, Seabrook police officers spoke to her and learned that O'Brien was driving her Toyota Corolla on Interstate 495 north when he punched and then strangled her.

"(The victim) stated she almost lost consciousness and jumped out of the vehicle while it was moving in order to get away," Cooney wrote in his report.

She later told police that she and O'Brien had known each other for years and did not want to get him in trouble. Immediate attempts to track down O'Brien failed and he remained on the loose for several months before being arrested in Hampton Falls, according to court records.

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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