A MAN drove down a back lane with his ex-partner hanging onto the open door of his van, a court was told.

The woman, who had concerns that Dale Bruce may have been drink driving, was trying to get into the front of the black Ford Transit after finding it on a road in Great Lumley, at about 6.30pm on Wednesday March 31.

Durham Crown Court heard that Bruce pulled away, with his former partner clinging to the passenger side of the van, “in terror”.

Paul Cross, prosecuting, said Bruce deliberately swerved from side to side and punched her to the head a number of times as well as biting her on the hand, as he reached a speed estimated to be 20-miles per hour.

A witness saw the van swaying and thought the woman was falling from the van, before she landed on her hands and legs on the road.

Another witness, driving in the vicinity followed the van leading to Bruce being arrested.

When interviewed the defendant made no reply to police questions.

The victim received hospital treatment for the bite mark, plus boney injuries and bruising.

Mr Cross said Bruce has, “a bad record for violence” and received a prison sentence in 2014 for battery of the same woman, at a time when they were in a relationship.

More recently he has public order convictions for which he remains subject to a community order.

The 32-year-old defendant, of Wimbledon Walk, Chester-le-Street, admitted dangerous driving and a new count of affray, when the case was set to go to trial last month.

His pleas were accepted by the prosecution and the case was adjourned for sentence.

Richard Herrmann, for Bruce, told the court: “He understands he needs to be punished for these offences.”

But he said the defendant, who often works away from home, would be able to do unpaid work on weekends, if necessary.

Judge Ray Singh said it must have been a terrifying ordeal for Bruce’s former partner.

He noted that the defendant has kept out of trouble since the incident and said there may now be, “a glimmer of hope that he may not trouble the courts in future.”

Imposing a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years, he ordered Bruce to perform 180-hours of unpaid work, and he must attend 30 probation-run rehabilitation activity days.

He was also banned from driving for two years.

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