A MAN drop-kicked his girlfriend in the face during a row, fracturing her cheekbone.

Vicious Dean Paul then ordered to woman to go to bed, where she lay sobbing until he fell asleep and she took her chance to escape.

At Bolton Crown Court 42-year-old Paul said he could remember "little or nothing" of the attack as they both had been drinking heavily.

He was jailed for two years and two months after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm in what Recorder Alexandra Simmonds described as a "persistent" assault on his partner.

Nicola Carroll, prosecuting, told the court how Paul and the woman had been in a relationship for about a month when they went to a friend's house on January 17.

The pair were drinking and got a taxi back to Paul's Laburnum Grove, Horwich, home in the early hours of the following morning.

But the court heard how a row developed and when they stopped off at a garage to use a cash machine, Paul attacked her, punching her to the ground.

They continued the journey and, back at his home, he persuaded to to go inside.

"As soon as he opened the door and got her inside he subjected her to a further, and completely unprovoked, attack," said Ms Carroll.

Paul punched her in the head, bursting her nose and dragged her out of the bathroom, where she had sought sanctuary, by her hair.

When she rejected Paul's "cuddles" on the sofa he became angry again, punched her and, wearing shoes, "drop-kicked" her in the face before ordering her to go to bed.

"She lay in bed, covered in blood and cried her eyes out," said Ms Carroll.

"He cuddled her, physical contact which, in the circumstances, was very obviously unwanted."

The woman took a chance to escape when Paul fell asleep and she ran to a neighbours' who rang her cousin to go and collect her.

The next day the woman went to hospital, where doctors discovered she had a fractured cheekbone and she needed surgery to insert a metal plate.

"There is a possibility she will be permanently disfigured," said Ms Carroll, who added that the woman has suffered a loss of feeling to part of her face.

In a victim statement the woman told how she had been badly affected by the attack, psychologically as well as physically.

"She clearly believes him to be a violent and dangerous offender," said Ms Carroll.

Nicholas Ross, defending, stressed that Paul, who has previous convictions for violence, has managed to free himself of drugs and stay out of trouble for the last four years.

"He is more than disappointed in himself," said Mr Ross.

"He remembers that there was some sort of inconsequential argument, he's not sure about what and, as he had put it to me, he over-reacted, that's an understatement, and he very much accepts full responsibility for the injuries caused.

"He wishes me to say how profoundly sorry he is."

A restraining order was made banning Paul from contacting his victim or going to within 50 metres of her home.