A MAN assaulted his pregnant girlfriend on the day she was due to go to hospital to have a scan on their unborn baby, a court heard.

Shane Thomas was told he deserved to go to prison for the "ugly" attack - but that he was better off having domestic violence lessons.

The 26-year-old - described by a judge yesterday as "very controlling and frighteningly aggressive" - was given a suspended jail term.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Thomas's girlfriend tried to leave him because she felt unsafe and was fed-up with constant insults about being fat.

On the day of the scan last October, she returned to their rented flat in Billingham to ask if he wanted to accompany her to hospital.

Thomas was aggressive, and yelled: "You're not having this baby without me. You're not going for a scan. You're going f***ing nowhere."

He grabbed his partner by the arm and dragged her into a bedroom, threw mobile phones at her, tipped up a coffee table and punched a door.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told the court that Thomas grabbed her by the face and squeezed her jaw and cheek so she could not talk.

He grabbed the young woman by the throat, pushed her into a freezer, shoved her onto a sofa and slapped her face, said Miss Masters.

Peter Wishlade, mitigating, said while he has been on remand in prison, the defendant has been visited and written to by his partner.

"She has been expressing her undying love for him," said the lawyer. "She says she wants him to be there for the birth of their child."

Thomas, of Station Road, Billingham, admitted charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and damaging property.

He was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with supervision and a domestic violence programme requirement.