Sunderland man who attacked two women in South Shields within a week has been jailed

A brute who attacked two women in less than a week has been put behind bars.
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Craig Merrigan slapped and pushed his girlfriend to the ground then started to strangle her in an attack on April 26.

Just four days later he left a friend of one of his exes bruised after he pushed her to the ground during a visit to her home on April 30.

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At the time of the attacks, the 33-year-old was on bail for throwing makeshift missiles and threats at police, who had been called to a house where Merrigan was "perched on windowsill with a noose around his neck" on April 19.

Craig MerriganCraig Merrigan
Craig Merrigan

Newcastle Crown Court heard the offences all happened at addresses in South Shields.

Prosecutor Dr Chris Wood said the attack on Merrigan's then-girlfriend happened after an argument "in relation to past partners" had erupted and she decided to leave the house.

Dr Wood said: "The defendant said she wasn't going anywhere.

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"She recalls in a statement he then began to slap her repeatedly.

"He pushed her to the floor."

The court heard the victim hit her head on a table as she fell, after being pushed around three times.

Dr Wood added: "He then proceeded to grab her by the throat and squeeze. He made a concerted effort to strangle her. She believes it was only for a a matter of seconds he did that."

The court heard the attack ended when Merrigan got a knife and began to harm himself.

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The victim was left with bruising and swelling, soreness to her jaw and a red mark to her neck.

Dr Wood said it was four days later Merrigan was at a woman's house having a drink with her and an ex partner of his and he became "argumentative".

The court heard Merrigan got hold of a knife and the woman stood between him and his ex, "fearful of what he might do" and so he pushed the peacemaker.

Dr Wood added: "The defendant pushed her to the chest, causing her to fall to the floor. As a result her torso and arm hit a dining table nearby."

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The court heart the victim was left bruised as a result of the fall.

Merrigan, of Noble Street, Sunderland, admitted assault in relation to the first attack and common assault in relation to the second.

He also pleaded guilty to affray in relation to the stand-off on April 19, where he armed himself with a knife after drinking a bottle of vodka and warned "anyone who comes close, I will f***** stab them".

He then threw property out towards police, who had come to assist after he put on the noose.

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Judge Edward Bindloss sentenced Merrigan to a total of 12 months behind bars and said the offences were "frightening outbursts", against a background of mental health issues.

The court heard Merrigan had been the victim of a machete attack last year and has post traumatic stress symptoms as a result, which he had used alcohol to cope with.

Vic Laffey, defending, said Merrigan has sought help while in custody on remand to deal with his problems and was "overwhelmed" at the time he committed the offences.

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