THE girlfriend of ex-Shameless and EastEnders star Jody Latham hit a woman with her handbag when she thought they were chatting too long in a Burnley nightclub, a court heard.

Sarah Louise Melia, a 31-year-old mother of three, struck in the early hours of New Year’s Day, after she and the actor had got back together following a split.

Melia was said to have plunged into depression last year when Latham, then her long-term partner, had started a headline-grabbing relationship with X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos.

The hairdresser believed she was being provoked when she was said to have seen Mr Latham, who found fame playing ‘Lip’ Gallagher in Channel 4’s Shameless, talking to Emma Bentley. Melia repeatedly hit her on the head.

Burnley magistrates heard how Melia left Ms Bentley with two cuts and with blood running down her face and over her clothes. The victim had to go to hospital for treatment.

Melia, of Woodland Terrace, Bacup, admitted assault by beating. She was given a community order, with 40 hours unpaid work and must pay £150 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.

Prosecutor Andrew Rob-inson said the victim was coming downstairs from the toilet in Fusion, on Hammerton Street, and spoke to a man she knew as they passed on the stairs. The next thing she knew, she felt a sharp pain on top of her head.

The victim was spoken to by paramedics and was taken to Burnley General Hospital, where it was found she had suffered a one-and-a-half inch long cut just below her hairline and a smaller, round cut just to the side of that.

Mr Robinson said Melia was interviewed by police and made admissions.

She claimed she thought the victim had been speaking to her partner for longer. Melia may have had a clutch bag with her and possibly the catch or zip may have caused the injuries.

Nick Cassidy, defending Melia at the magistrates court, said: “She is genuinely remorseful and, if given the opportunity, would like to formally apologise to the complainant.

“In the autumn of last year and towards December, she found out her long- term partner had started a relationship with another lady.

“That relationship was then spread all over the tabloids. She became aware of that reading the Sunday newspapers and started to suffer from depression.”

Chairman David Bennett said the Bench was satisfied there was no premeditation.