A MAN who beat up his girlfriend and then claimed he was away from home at the time has been jailed for a total of 23 months.

Kieron Peter Clark was arrested two days after the attack at the couple’s home, at the time, in Ludworth, near Durham, late last May.

Durham Crown Court heard the assault was said to have taken place on their return home from drinking at a friend’s home in Easington.

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Clark, 24, initially told police he was at an England football international match in London, and later changed his story to say he had been with friends in east Durham, before reverting to his original claim that he was in the capital.

Denying assault causing actual bodily harm, Clark told the court he travelled the country stealing items to sell in London, where he could charge more for stolen goods.

But a jury took less than an hour to unanimously find him guilty at the end of his trial at Durham Crown Court, last month.

Friday's sentencing hearing was told he also has to answer for eight counts of theft or attempted theft, all from shops, in which mainly meat products and alcohol were taken.

The court was told 24-year-old Clark, of Thornton Close, Ludworth, has 47 convictions for 98 offences, 68 of them for dishonesty, all committed since 2007.

Paul Abrahams, mitigating, told the court: “The impression he gave to the jury was that his thieving was almost something of a national conspiracy.

“I would say that’s not necessarily true.

“He’s a thief, but not to the extent he painted himself when he gave evidence."

Recorder Euan Duff jailed him for 15 months for the assault with eight months added for the thefts and imposed a restraining order preventing Clark contacting or trying to contact his former partner for five years.