Brute spared jail after choking girlfriend
A brute choked his girlfriend, pulled out a clump of her hair and threatened to bite off her nose after he flew into a violent rage during a row over a missed benefit payment.
The terrified victim, who had been holding a toddler in her arms, only managed to stop Stephen McGee's shocking attack by squeezing his private parts to get him off her.
She was left with red marks around her neck, a sore cheek and a missing patch of hair the size of a "tennis ball" after the attack by the 36-year-old at her home in Low Simonside, South Tyneside, in March.
McGee, now of no fixed address, admitted assault.
Prosecutor Nick Lane told Newcastle Crown Court: "An argument broke out in relation to the defendant not receiving his benefit payment.
"The argument continued for a period of time then she asked the defendant to leave."
The court heard as McGee got up to walk away, he was somehow knocked over by the dog and then attacked the woman.
Mr Lane said: "He grabbed her around the throat with both hands and began to squeeze. She said at that stage she was struggling to breathe.
"She became terrified for her safety and took her mobile phone from her pocket and attempted to ring the police.
"As she did so, the defendant released his grip from around her throat and grabbed the phone."
The court heard McGee took the woman's phone with him upstairs to pack up his belongings and so she ran to the front door and shouted "can someone call the police".
Mr Lane said McGee came back down the stairs and attacked again.
He added: "The defendant grabbed her by the hair and was pulling at it, so hard, in fact, he took some hair from the top of her head.
"He pulled her down and pulled her head backwards.
"He said 'I'm going to bite your nose off' and put his teeth around her nose, gripping it as if he were about to bite it, although it is accepted he did not, in fact, bite down.
"However, she believed that that was what he intended to do and said she was terrified."
The court heard McGee still kept hold of the woman's hair after the nose-bite threat.
Mr Lane added: "In an attempt to free herself she grabbed him by his genitals and squeezed.
"This caused him, eventually, to release his grip."
In a victim statement, the woman said she is haunted by what happened that day and plans to move home to get away from the memories there.
She said: "I am trying to find myself again.
"I no longer laugh or smile.
"I don't feel like the same person I was before Stephen.
"I am emotionally and physically drained as a result of Stephen and this incident."
The woman said she is constantly reminded of the horror than happened in her home and added: "I am haunted with worry that I could have lost my life in a split second, in that exact spot."
Judge Tim Gittins sentenced McGee to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements and a five-year restraining order to keep him away from the victim.
The judge told him: "No-one should underestimate the psychological impact of being attacked in your own home by someone who should be there not just not to harm you but effectively to protect you, rather than assault you."
Judge Gittins said probation service input was a bid to "protect the community at large and other partners in future".
Rachel Hedworth, defending, said McGee has long term mental health problems but has sought professional help.
Miss Hedworth added: "He is extremely sorry for what has taken place.
"He is extremely sorry the relationship has broken down but he is fully accepting of the fact the relationship has broken down.
"He has made no attempt to contact her."