A MAN attacked his pregnant ex-partner, smashed her fish tank and made threats of further violence in two drunken visits to her home within a few weeks earlier this year.

Durham Crown Court heard that Stewart Morrison assaulted the woman on the first visit, on January 31, and caused the damage, while making angry threats on March 10.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said in the first confrontation Morrison grabbed the woman's neck and squeezed tightly before slapping her face three times.

When she rang 999, making an emergency call, Morrison left, but he returned weeks later when he shouted abusively at her, smashed the fish tank and threatened to stab her with a piece of broken glass

At his first crown court appearance in the case, in April, he denied two counts of assault by beating, plus damaging property and making a threat to kill, claiming that while he was present, the alleged assaults were, “made up”.

The case was adjourned for a trial to be staged at the court, scheduled to start today (Tuesday June 14) and Morrison was bailed on a tagged curfew, on the basis he did not visit her ex-partner’s home in Bowburn.

But, at a further ‘plea’ hearing at the court on Monday June 6, the 41-year-old defendant, of Sandbach, Great Lumley, admitted the first assault and a new added count of affray, on the second visit.

Returning to court for the sentencing hearing today (Tuesday June 14), Morrison’s counsel, Lewis Kerr, said his client’s difficulties have stemmed from misuse of alcohol and he would consent to attending a programme to address those issues.

Read more: Durham Crown Court: ‘Thug' bullied and controlled former partner 

Judge James Adkin said the violence in the first incident was, “a nasty common assault”, after which he (Morrison), “skulked off”.

He told Morrison: “You are the sort of man who thinks it’s acceptable to bully women when you have been drinking.”

Judge Adkin said had there been a trial Morrison would have received an eight-month prison sentence, if convicted.

“But I can reduce that to six months as credit for plea and, bearing in mind you don’t have a bad criminal record, I can suspend that.”

He suspended the six-month prison sentence for two years, during which Morrison must undergo a six-month alcohol treatment programme and attend 20 probation-supervised rehabilitation activity days.

Morrison was also made subject of a four-month 7pm to 7am home curfew.

Judge Adkin warned him, however: “Comply with the curfew and community orders and you and I will probably never meet again.

“But, if you breach either, our next meeting will be less pleasant, because I’ll send you to prison.”

The three counts denied by Morrison at the April hearing, but not proceeded with by the Crown, were left to lie on the file.

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