A MAN who punched and slapped his partner has been warned he faces prison if he repeats his attacks.

Steven McConnell was also accused of locking his victim in the house when he went out and carrying out personal, physical checks on her to ensure that she had not been cheating on him.

During the time of some of the assaults, Teesside Crown Court heard that the victim was pregnant with his child and despite his repeated violence and controlling behaviour, the couple have also conceived another child.

Paul Cross, prosecuting, said: "When she was expecting her child he would come home and demand to know who she had been with.

"And when she was six months pregnant he would lock her in the house; he would go out on a night lock the front door and take the key with him and she wouldn't be able to get out because the rear door would also be locked."

Mr Cross said if he was not satisfied with the answers to any questions he asked her, he would strike her and then apologise for his actions. The defendant would also carry out physical checks on his partner to "ensure she had been cheating on him".

"On March 6 last year, the defendant returned home and asked to check her, he then sat on her legs and punched her several times in the face; she managed to escape and run upstairs and he followed her apologising for hitting her," he added.

McConnell, of Newcomen Terrace, Redcar, pleaded guilty to engaging in coercive behaviour and assault by beating in March last year.

The court heard that an initial trial failed to go ahead because the complainant failed to attend court. An summons was issued for her and she was eventually arrested to force her to attend court.

On the day of the second listing for the trial, McConnell changed his pleas to guilty, a move the judge said he did "because he realised the game was up".

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said the pair had a second child together despite McConnell's arrest for assault and coercive control.

He said: "It was admitted late in the day but the defendant, now 35-years-old, has accepted full responsibility for his actions."

A probation service report recommended that McConnell would benefit from a Building Better Relationships course.

McConnell was given a 15 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Judge Paul Watson QC said: "You have expressed remorse to the author of the probation report and this seems genuine. It also seems that you have gained some insight about the level of control you had over your partner. It has been quite noticeable that you seem to be finally waking up to the fact your conduct is unacceptable."

He was also ordered to carry out up to 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and attend 30 Building Better Relationships sessions.