A MAN who regularly assaulted and emotionally abused his partner over a controlling 18-month relationship has been jailed for 27 months.

Durham Crown Court was told Paul Clay, described as a “heavy cannabis user”, would become moody when he was without the drug, and would kick his partner in the legs and call her, “a fat pig”.

But the court heard he also became increasingly controlling over her, often locking her in the house, preventing her going to see family and friends, and, on the “rare occasions” she did visit them, she would receive a beating when she came home.

On her return from visiting her family on December 25 2020, Clay also pushed her into their Christmas tree and smashed her presents, from family members.

Joe Hedworth, prosecuting, said other examples of Clay’s violence and degradation of her, included making her eat from a waste bin, kicking her out of bed and, when she made a bid to escape via a window, he caught her, bit her legs and made her sleep on the floor.

He once squeezed her hand tightly returning from a visit to one of his relations, and repeatedly threw water at her, resulting in her being physically sick, while he also poured her medication, for a health condition, over the floor.

Mr Hedworth said when she finally ended the relationship in May 2021, he continued to contact her, often via third parties and using online aliases, as he tried to persuade her to return to him.

But he also made threats as to what he would do when she refused to respond to him.

Clay was cautioned and arrested in August, last year, when he accepted “pushing and shoving” her, but denied further assaults alleged by her, and claimed she was always free to leave.

Despite being forbidden to contact her, he continued to do so, often via a third party, and was arrested again in October last year.

He claimed he had not been stalking her, although he may have sent messages while in drink, but he said he may have threatened to go to her place of work, pledging it would not be repeated.

In her impact statement the victim said she had struggled to sleep and suffered, “a cycle of ill-health” in the aftermath of the relationship with Clay.

Her resulting stress and anxiety has also had an effect on her work performance.

Clay, 25, of Chestnut Avenue, Spennymoor, admitted stalking early in proceedings, but only put in a guilty plea to controlling and coercive behaviour within a relationship a month before his scheduled trial.

Read more: Vast majority of coercion cases don't make it to court

Simon Perkins, for the defendant, told the court: “There’s nothing that can justify his behaviour.

“The only positive in this case is that he eventually saw sense and tendered a ‘guilty’ plea.”

Mr Perkins said Clay, who has no previous convictions, has tried to lead, “an industrious and honest life”, holding down a job fitting domestic appliances until last week.

Judge Ray Singh told Clay: “You regularly assaulted and emotionally abused her from the start of your relationship as soon as she moved into your house in February 2020.

“You became violent when you didn’t have access to cannabis.

“There were so many occasions where you abused and assaulted her that there were too many to remember.”

Jailing him, Judge Singh also made Clay subject to a restraining order for ten years forbidding him from contacting or approaching the victim.

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