A MAN who slapped his girlfriend so hard her eardrum perforated has been spared jail.

Bolton magistrates heard how Martin Henshew was in a relationship with the woman, whom he had known for four years, and on July 4 last year they went to the Tropical Cafe in Derby Street, for a night out.

But the court heard that, after arriving back at her Thicketford Road flat in the early hours of the following morning, 36-year-old Henshew began shouting at her.

Joseph Haughton, prosecuting, told how the woman pleaded with him to be quiet because of people living in the flat upstairs but he continued the row, refused to let her leave the room and pushed her down on the sofa.

"At this point the complainant said the defendant suddenly slapped her face really hard to the side with his hand and then grabbed her by the head and threw her to the floor," said Mr Haughton.

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The court heard that Henshew continued to hit her for around five minutes before he eventually allowed her to go outside, where she asked a neighbour to phone the police.

Henshew was arrested and, later that morning, the woman went to the Royal Bolton Hospital where she was treated for a perforated eardrum.

Henshew, of Midge Street, Openshaw, denied causing actual bodily harm but was convicted following a trial.

In a victim statement read out in court the woman stated: "I am constantly on edge.

"I don't have the confidence or trust to meet anyone so the chances of trying any new relationship are very small."

The woman added that her confidence has been so badly affected that she has given up her job as a metal health support worker.

"I am a shell of what I was," she said.

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Jane Miller, defending, told the court: "He maintains his denials in relation to this offence. He is very apologetic for the fact the complainant has injuries and continues to suffer from those."

She added that Nigerian-born Henshew, who has no previous convictions, is married with two children and has been in the UK for the last 10 years.

Miss Miller told magistrates that Henshew's life in Nigeria had been very difficult. He was brought up by his grandmother, who was shot and killed in October last year and he is currently awaiting the result of his application to remain in the UK.

Henshew wept in the dock as magistrates sentenced him to 22 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered him to participate in 25 days of rehabilitation activities.

Chairman Martin Simpson told him: "This was a sustained assault on the victim in the victim's own home in which she suffered serious injury which is having an ongoing effect.

"We are willing to suspend the sentence, as this is your first conviction, in order for you to get help from probation. In coming to our decision we have taken into account that you have already spent two weeks in custody on remand."

A restraining order was made banning Henshew from contacting his former girlfriend and he was ordered to pay £300 in compensation plus £424 in costs and charges.