A WOMAN who smashed a mug over a love rival's head before dragging her around by her hair and kneeing her in the face has narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Nicola Llewellyn, who is due to become a grandmother in the next few months, launched her violent attack on the woman as she left her home in March last year.

The 34-year-old left her victim battered and bruised after she confronted her about an ex-partner.

Teesside Crown Court heard how she only stopped the attack when a man she was with pulled her off the woman as she was laid on the ground.

Damian Broadbent, prosecuting, said the defendant confronted the woman by shouting 'it's ' f***ing you, this has been a long time coming' before attacking her.

He said: "The defendant has struck the victim's head with the mug, which has caused it to smash, the defendant has then taken hold of her hair and dragged her to the ground.

"She has then dragged the victim around on the ground by her hair and a witness has described her as screaming and crying out in pain.

"The defendant has then released the victim's hair and began to hit her with her fists, the victim is unclear how times this happened, and the defendant then kneed her in the face.

"The assault only ended when the defendant was dragged off the victim by one of the males who was there with her."

Mr Broadbent said the victim was visibly shaken and crying when she got back into her home and was unable to see her daughter on the day of the attack.

The victim suffered heavy bruising to her eyes as well as cuts and grazes to her head.

The court heard how the attack left eh victim feeling 'scared' and didn't know what would happen if she was assaulted by her again.

Llewellyn had previous convictions for assault, the judge heard.

The defendant, of Derwent Street, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm following the attack on March 21 last year.

Tom Bennett, in mitigation, said his client had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and deserved credit for that.

He added: "I accept, as does the defendant, that it was a nasty assault. This is an offence that clearly crosses the custody threshold but the question is, does it have to be an immediate custodial sentence or can it be suspended."

Recorder Martin Rose sentenced Llewelyn to 12 months in custody, suspended for two years.

He said: "The incident was a nasty one, frankly, it was a mean assault to carry out on your victim.

"She is known to you, she had been in a relationship with your ex-partner, and seemingly lives in the vicinity – all of those matters must have made a frightening and humiliating experience for her.

"Whether you waited outside her property or whether you were there by chance, matters not, she was just going about her ordinary business outside her home and was going to visit her daughter.

"Her daughter was in care, you must know what it is like when your time with your child is limited and she lost that opportunity on that day because of your actions."

She was also ordered to attend 30 rehabilitation activity days and 80 hours of unpaid work.

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