A FORMER British boxing champion broke his wife's nose in a shameful attack at their home.

Bantamweight Michael Hunter, 37, had a fearsome reputation in the ring but he turned his fists on wife Joanne in a row at their home, breaking her nose and leaving her with two black eyes, a court was told.

When she finally summoned up the courage to leave him, he plagued her with calls and texts, broke an injunction to keep him away from her and attacked her a second time on the doorstep of her new home.

A judge said he used the skills he had built up over years in the ring against Joanne but allowed him to walk free with a suspended sentence.

The attack happened in 2010 but Joanne, from Hartlepool, stayed silent until after she had left Hunter over his drinking, cocaine use and her suspicions that he was cheating on her with a mistress.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson told Teesside Crown Court: "The defendant and his wife had both been out and returned to their home where an argument ensued.

"The defendant repeatedly punched her in the face, he is a boxer and is well known for that.

"He caused her to fall backwards with her nose bleeding heavily, there was bruising to her eyes and her nose had to be re-set under general anaesthetic. The injury took a couple of weeks to heal."

Miss Atkinson said that in a two month period in August and September last year Hunter was sending up to 50 messages a day, some of them threatening to do her injury.

In November last year a non molestation order was granted to protect her but Hunter broke it, turning up on her doorstep.

Miss Atkinson said: "She tried to push him away but he kicked her in the stomach causing her pain and causing her to fall backwards, this was done in the presence of children."

Hunter, of Eskdale Road, Hartlepool, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and putting a person in fear of violence by harassment.

Mark Styles, mitigating, said the offences were "very much out of character" for Hunter and that he was a hard working man who took his role as a father seriously. He handed in four references which spoke highly of Hunter.

Recorder Jonathan Aitken sentenced Hunter to a two year prison sentence suspended for two years, 100 hours unpaid work in the community and ordered he pay £400 prosecution costs.