A MAN who had been drinking was caught on CCTV beating his girlfriend in a Bolton town centre street.

At Bolton Crown Court 49-year-old James Edgington, who has learning difficulties, sobbed in the dock as he was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Recorder Tom Gilbart heard how Edgington, of Lilly Street, Bolton, had been drinking in Bolton with his girlfriend on the evening of December 19, but an argument broke out and police were called after CCTV operators spotted him attacking her as they walked along Newport Street.

Clare Thomas, prosecuting, showed footage in which Edgington shoved her into fencing surrounding fairground rides and then, when she fell to the ground, repeatedly punched her.

He walked away several times and then returned to her, who was described as vulnerable and needs the support of carers, as she lay motionless.

Edgington was arrested and pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm although the victim refused to provide a statement to police.

Nicholas Ross, defending, stressed that Edgington had remained out of trouble for more than 30 years but a "red mist" had descended when he argued with the woman.

"He has told me 'I have never hit a woman in my life and I will never do it again'. He is ashamed," said Mr Ross, who stressed that the attack had been an isolated incident.

As part of his sentence Edgington was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work, participate in 25 days of rehabilitation activities and undertake the building better relationships programme.

Describing his behaviour as "disgraceful" Recorder Gilbart told him: "You have come as close as you could to an immediate custodial sentence and the fact that I suspended it is no endorsement or praise for what you did. It was quite appalling."