By Jon Harris
A FORMER building site manager who left his pregnant girlfriend with a fractured eye socket following a savage beating has walked free from court after she offered to give their relationship another go.
Father-of-one Peter Dougal, 32, was arrested after he grabbed Joanne Hough, from Lees, and repeatedly punched her in the face after he became drunk and argumentative during a night out last Christmas.Miss Hough, who was 13 weeks pregnant with their child, was pinned to the floor and beaten until she blacked out. She was later taken to hospital by Dougal’s sister and was treated for bruising to the left had side of her face.
She underwent scans and an X-Ray which initially showed no major injury but doctors recalled her to hospital and it emerged she had suffered a fractured eye socket.
In an initial statement to police, the victim, 34, said: “When I was lying on the floor and he was punching me, I just thought how can someone do something like this when he claims he loved me.
“I thought I was going to die. Peter needs help. His alcohol intake and drugs has had an effect on him and I cannot trust him no more and I am living in fear of what he will do next.
“It is dangerous him being around me and it could escalate further. I don’t want him in my life anymore.”
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Dougal of Egerton Street, Oldham, wept as he admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
But he was given 12 months jail suspended for two years after Miss Hough told prosecutors she wanted to rekindle her relationship and for Dougal to play an active part in their child’s life.
The court heard the couple knew each since they were teenagers and began dating in 2017 but the relationship was stormy, with police being called out on two occasions following arguments.
The assault occurred on December 20 after the couple had been out in a pub in Lees where Dougal got caught up in argument with another customer about whose turn it was to play pool.
They returned to Miss Hough’s home via a shop where Dougal bought eight cans of lager but a further row and the beating broke out when he started to roll a cannabis joint.
Dougal later promised Miss Hough he would give up drinking but he was arrested on Boxing Day after his behaviour apparently failed to improve.
The prosecutor added: “She is now of a different opinion now to what she said in her statement and it is her hope that their relationship will continue so he can become part of that child’s life.”
In mitigation, defence solicitor Kimberley Morton told the hearing her client suffered from depression and added: “He tells me has cut down his drinking considerably after this incident and has sought help.
“He does not know what is going to happen in the future as he says he needs to sort himself out first. But he wants to be part of the child’s life.
“His relationship with Miss Hough has at times been difficult. But he is ashamed of what happened that night and he is extremely remorseful.”
Dougal was also ordered to complete a ‘Building Better Relationships’ programme plus a six-month alcohol rehabilitation programme. He was further ordered to be electronically tagged for two months and to abide by an 8pm to 6am curfew.
Sentencing, Judge Tina Landale told him: “You assaulted her when she was pregnant and despite her telling you to leave. Even after she attempted to defend herself you continued to punch her.
“The attack occurred in her own home where she should feel safe and protected. I accept you are truly remorseful and this offence is very much out of character for you.”