LESLIE Sombat punched his "girlfriend" in front of her two-year-old granddaughter after a row over the child playing with his tobacco.

Blackburn magistrates heard it was the third occasion that Sombat had punched Margaret Leaver but that she wished to continue their relationship.

Sombat, 50, of Pringle Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to assault.

He was given a criminal rehabilitation order for 12 months with a condition that he attends the domestic violence prevention programme, and ordered to pay £50 compensation and £55 costs.

Claire Fanning, prosecuting, said Sombat had gone to the shop and while he was out Mrs Leaver's grandchild had been playing with his tobacco. She told him what had happened and an argument started.

Miss Fanning said the dispute continued in front of the child and ended with Sombat punching Mrs Leaver in the face. Lesley Halliwell, defending, said: the couple had had a close relationship for about 10 years and despite this and previous incidents Mrs Leaver wanted the relationship to continue.

"His recollection was that she lashed out first but he accepts that, even if that was the case, it was incorrect for him to respond in the way that he did."