A MAN assaulted his terrified partner as she was holding their three-year-old child.

Blackburn magistrates heard on a second occasion Jonathan James Hawtrey attacked the same victim in front of both of her children, forcing her to run from her own home and seek sanctuary in a nearby community centre.

Sending him to prison for six months Deputy District Judge Geraldine Kelly said the suggestion from the probation service that a community order should be imposed was "wholly unrealistic."

"What a terrifying experience it must have been for the three-year-old child when you started smashing things in the living room before assaulting her mother," said Deputy District Judge Kelly.

"What a memory for both the children who saw you screaming at their mother, assaulting her and throwing a candle at her.

"She was forced to run from her own home with her two children and seek help. In my judgement both of these are in the top category for sentencing."

Hawtrey, 30, of Grimshaw Street, Darwen, pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault but was convicted after trial, and guilty to one of criminal damage. He was jailed for six months and ordered to pay £128 victim surcharge on release. He was also made subject to a restraining order for two years which prohibits him from having any contact with the victim.

Peter Cruickshank, prosecuting, said the victim gave a background of an unhappy relationship which deteriorated to the point where anything she said would make him angry.

The first incident occurred when he was going out and she asked where he was going. He responded by saying it was none of her business and started shouting at her.

"Her three year old child was sitting on her knee when he started throwing things around the room including her mobile phone and the child's dinner plate," said Mr Cruickshank.

"She was frightened of him and just wanted to protect her child."

Hawtrey grabbed her by the throat and she was unable to breathe.

"He held her for a while but she didn't lose consciousness," said Mr Cruickshank.

"She said she didn't care if he hurt her, she just wanted to protect her child. He punched and slapped her so hard she thought her face was broken."

Prior to the second incident the victim had been to the library with her children and returned to find him in her home. An argument developed and he started shouting and screaming.

"He grabbed her around the throat and started slapping her to the face," said Mr Cruickshank.

"He then picked up a large candle and threw it at her. She ducked and it missed and she grabbed her children and ran out of the house."

Michael Alexander, defending, said the assaults were denied and his client continued to deny them.

"The criminal damage was committed in anger and he apologises for that," said Mr Alexander.