A father who threw a footstool and at mobile phone at his then girlfriend before dragging her by her hair and slapping her across the face has been told he must stay out of trouble for 18 months or serve a prison sentence.

Christopher Bendall, of Great Eastern Terrace Neyland, had been on a night out on the evening of August 6, 2022.

He returned home at around 3am the following morning and went to bed. At around 4.20am his then girlfriend, who had been on a night out separately from him, entered his unlocked address.

She woke him up and began questioning him about messages from another woman on his phone.

The verbal argument turned into a physical one as Bendall tried to remove the woman from his property.

Bendall, 33, threw a footstool and the victim’s mobile phone at her, both missed. He then pushed her to the floor and dragged her by her hair before slapping her face and dragging her into the hallway by her hair.

The woman fought back, eventually grabbing Bendall by his testicles and pulling which caused him to let go. She fled the property, taking his mobile phone with her.

Bendall then rang 999 making accusations against the woman. Police arrested her but on seeing her injuries, which included carpet burns, bruising and redness they freed her and arrested Bendall.

The court heard that this assault had been preceded by another in May when Bendall threw his mobile phone at the woman and broke her finger.

Bendall told police that on the second occasion he had been woken by the woman, who he had been in an on off relationship with for three years, and that she has thrown water over him and questioned him about two girls’ phone numbers in his phone.

He wanted her to leave the property and give his phone back. A struggle had ensued and he had acted partly out of self-defence.

Bendall initially denied the offences but changed his plea to guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm before trial.

No evidence was offered for three other charges of controlling or coercive behaviour; assault by beating and strangulation and the judge formally entered not guilty verdicts for these counts.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said that she was seeing a counsellor and had been put on anxiety medication since the assaults. She still didn’t feel normal and struggled to go out on her own.

In his defence it was said that Bendall, a father of three who works a successful solar electrician, was previously of clean character.

He was also a good father and very involved with his children and had well-paid employment.

He now abstained from drink and there had been no other incidents since August 2022.

Judge Mr Recorder D Elias KC said that the court had taken into account Bendall’s basis of plea to the two assaults as well as a pre-sentence report and two character references.

He said that the victim’s injuries from the second assault were nasty and that there clearly had been some level of psychological harm.

He sentenced Bendall to a total 12 months in prison for the two assaults, suspended for 18 months. He also ordered Bendall to attend a Building Better Relationships course, to undertake ten days rehabilitation activity requirement and 150 hours unpaid work.

Bendall must also pay £1,500 court costs and a £156 victim surcharge within six months.