A SPURNED husband dragged his wife out of bed and pushed her down the stairs when she rejected his eleventh-hour reconciliation bid, a court heard.

William (Billy) Middleton followed downstairs and once more dragged her by the hair, before punching and pushing her as she tried to usher him out of the house.

When she finally succeeded in forcing him out, Middleton’s parting shot was to throw a plank of wood through the double-glazed lounge window, causing £315 worth of damage.

Durham Crown Court was told the attack took place in the family home, witnessed by the couple’s young sons, who pleaded with him to stop.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said when interviewed later that day, March 9, Middleton gave a prepared statement claiming he was acting in self-defence.

It was only when he appeared before magistrates, on April 24, that the 34-year-old defendant, of Church Street, Catchgate, near Stanley, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage to the window.

Mr Pettengell said the bckground was Middleton’s wife telling him she wanted to end their five-year marriage and 12-year relationship.

But on March 8, she asked him to babysit and look after the children while she went out with friends.

Mr Pettengell said Middleton spent the night drinking with his brother, but on his wife’s return, after his sibling left, he attempted to persuade her to try to “make a go” of their relationship.

It was her rejection of this and her insistence it was over that led to his violent outburst, after he refused to leave and she went to bed.

The court heard her injuries included extensive bruising, a cut ear, abrasions to the chest and back, plus glass injuries to her feet.

Brooke Morrison, mitigating, said during eight weeks in custody Middleton has reflected on his actions and is now full of remorse.

“He described being ashamed and disgusted at his actions., waking up daily with an overwhelming sense of shame and embarrassment. He would like his wife to know he’s very sorry, but he appreciates it may be something she doesn’t want to hear from him.”

Miss Morrison said while in custody he has attended daily parenting classes, “recognising how badly he let down his children.”

Judge Jonathan Carroll said for such a, “sustained and repeated” assault, aggravated by the presence of their children, it had to be an immediate sentence.

He passed a 21-month jail term, with an indefinite restraining order prohibiting Middleton from trying to contact his estranged wife.