A MAN spoke timidly and tearfully from the dock as a judge spared him prison - after his battered wife said she wanted him to get help.

Kristian Shea had downed bottles of beer and almost an entire bottle of vodka before he even went out with friends and relatives last December.

During the night out in Stockton, the 25-year-old argued with his wife because they had little money left for alcohol, a court heard yesterday (Monday, February 3).

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When the couple returned home, Shea repeatedly attacked the mother-of-three, smashing two of her teeth and leaving her covered in cuts and bruises.

Shea's wife was in the public gallery at Teesside Crown Court after writing a letter to the judge asking for mercy for the 6ft labourer.

He was given a nine-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, with supervision, anger management classes and alcohol treatment.

As Judge Les Spittle gave him a stern ticking-off and told him his wife needed to be safeguarded in future, Shea repeatedly sniffed "yes, I know".

The judge told him: "You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself . . . she wants to continue with the relationship, I want to protect her.

"This was a persistent course of conduct. It wasn't just the loss of temper, and lashing out. You pursued her upstairs and downstairs.

"One of the features I find somewhat disquieting is you saying 'look what you have made me do'. She didn't make you do anything. You did.

"No responsibility or blame can be placed on her at all. It is quite appalling to seek to put your criminal and violent behaviour to her responsibility."

The victim twice broke free from the attack, but Shea followed her, forced his way through a barricaded door and stopped her from calling the police.

After demanding a pizza and punching her in the face several times, he yelled at her on the kitchen floor: "Get up and stop being stupid."

When officers arrived at the couple's home, Shea lashed out, tried to stop himself being handcuffed and kicked one of the policemen in the hand.

Duncan McReddie, mitigating, said: "He acknowledges his behaviour, as well as being criminal, was wholly unacceptable in a relationship.

"She recognises that her husband needs help. She is willing to support him while he accesses that help.

"An immediate term of imprisonment would serve to punish Mr Shea, but there may be unintended consequences to the family unit."

Shea, of Surbiton Road, Stockton, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault at an earlier court hearing.