A man who behaved, “like a monster” as a relationship with a young woman ended in violence, is starting a three-year prison sentence.

Durham Crown Court heard that Michael Burnip committed a “prolonged and persistent” assault on his, now, former partner, leaving her petrified he would kill her.

Over the final weekend the pair were together he took her head and banged it off a kitchen cupboard, following a row at her Chester-le-Street home.

Ian West, prosecuting, said it was alleged that the defendant thrust her head into the cupboard several times and bit both her face and hand, breaking the skin, and causing bruising to her chin and the rear of her right hand, on Saturday September 17, last year.

Read more: Forty-month sentence imposed on Darlington man for domestic abuse

The following day they were out in his van in Chester-le-Street when an argument developed in the vehicle and Burnip grabbed his partner by the hair, as he was driving, spat in her face and punched her in the arm.

Mr West said Burnip then told her to clean up the spittle, some which landed on the window.

When they stopped at a DIY store the victim tried to run away, but he chased her and caught up with her near the shop door and slapped her.

Although a number of people were going into and out of the store, no-one went to the assaulted woman’s aid.

Burnip tried to get her back to the van, eventually succeeding in doing so, but at one point she tried to flee the vehicle while it was still moving.

Mr West said on arrival back at her address she was frightened to get out, fearing what may happen on getting back inside her home.

“She was right to do so as when they did, he grabbed her by the throat and dragged her to the floor.”

Although she tried to push him off she ended on her knees, with Burnip over her striking her and then putting her in another choke hold, for about 30 seconds, leaving her unable to breathe for a short time.

When she tried to flee the house, he locked the door but her head was bleeding heavily and she was unaware of how it happened.

Read more: County Durham man jailed for 'reprehensible' attack on former partner

Burnip tried to help her stop the blood flow, but it took about an hour to do so, before she took the opportunity to call for an ambulance and the police.

When arrested, Burnip largely declined to answer questions put to him, despite having told police, as he was being detained, that he had, “put my hands on her”, and saying: “I know what I have done.”

The 22-year-old defendant, of Auckland, Chester-le-Street, admitted two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm, plus assault by beating and intentional strangulation.

The court heard that while on bail, awaiting the case coming to court, Burnip removed an ankle tag and smashed a window at his victim’s home, before assaulting her and pinning her to the ground.

He served a four-month prison sentence, imposed by magistrates, during the period he was, effectively, on remand for the offences he was before the court for today (Wednesday March 1).

In her impact statement, read to the court, the victim said she was “terrified” of Burnip, who she feared would kill her.

She has since struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and added that she could not believe how he had treated her, despite all she had done for him.

Helen Towers, for the defendant, said his admissions were made on the basis he only struck his ex-partner’s head off the cupboard once, and not several times, as the prosecution stated, and that she caught her chin on his teeth, by accident in the incident.

Judge Jo Kiss told Miss Towers: “It was within a history of violence with the same victim.

“She suffered two black eyes, significant bruising to the left side of the face running down to her neck and a cut to her head.”

Judge Kidd said the victim had a CT scan, which revealed no underlying bleed on the brain.

Miss Towers added that the defendant now accepts the full facts of the offences and concedes he needs treatment for anger management to control his temper, but she said in time there was the prospect of him leading a, “law-abiding life”.

Read next:

               Terrified victim feared she would die at hands County Durham partner

               County Durham man jailed for 'remorseless' and 'humiliating' violence

               Drunken Ferryhill man took to wheel of estranged partner's car

Get more from The Northern Echo and read more stories like this by subscribing to a digital subscription from only £1.25 a week here. Click here

Imposing the total 36-month prison sentence, she told Burnip her was responsible for a, “repeated and significant” attack, causing, “immense psychological damage”.

Judge Kidd put in place a restraining order, prohibiting him from approaching or contacting his ex-partner for ten years, and she said she hoped he does go on to lead a law-abiding life.

But, she added: “In the context of your relationship, you behaved like a monster.”