A drunken thug who smashed his partner over the back with a garden chair before repeatedly punching her in the face has walked free from court.

Stephen Gutteridge had spent the day drinking at a wedding with his now former partner before heading out into Hartlepool town centre to continue boozing.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 50-year-old reacted angrily to the woman telling him to go home due to his behaviour last summer.

Elisha Marsay, prosecuting, said the violent attack took place in front of the victim’s young daughter who was awoken by the screams of her mother.

She said: “She was struck by the garden chair which caused her to fall to the floor and hit her head on the ground.

“The defendant got over her and punched her to the face several times.

“Her daughter was woken by her mother’s screams for help and saw the defendant punching her mother to the face.”

Gutteridge, of Travellers Gate, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm following the attack on the early hours of July 16 last year.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said his client had struggled with alcohol and had started drinking again after several years of abstinence.

He said: “He is a gentleman who clearly had a problem with alcohol and had been abstinent for four years – he had not drunk until his 50th birthday.

“He was quite intoxicated and behaved appallingly. He is now abstinent again.”

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Recorder Andrew Smith MBE warned the defendant to stay off the drink as he imposed a sentence of eight months in custody suspended for two years.

He added: “This was witnessed by her daughter and I can’t think of anything more distressing for a child to watch than their mother being battered by her boyfriend outside their home.”

Gutteridge was ordered to attend 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days, carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay his victim £1,000 in compensation.

He was also made subject to a five-year restraining order.