A HEREFORD man stamped his former girlfriend's dog to death in a campaign of violence.

Liam Phillip Stezaker, 27, of Whitecross, was jailed after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and coercive and controlling behaviour.

Giles Nelson, prosecuting, said that Stezaker, who was subject to a community order relating to a previous conviction of common assault, had entered into a relationship with Sarah Griffiths after meeting online in 2016.

The court heard that Stezaker pushed, spat on, grabbed, followed and caused injuries to his 'vulnerable' former girlfriend on multiple occasions during their relationship.

The violence escalated in September 2017, when Stezaker launched a vicious attack on Miss Griffiths' dog, Tilly.

Worcester Crown Court heard that he strangled and stamped the dog to death before dumping the body in a bin.

Mr Nelson said: "Considerable physical force was used to strangle the dog, causing severe suffering.

"This was a gratuitous piece of violence against the dog. It was not an accident."

In February last year Miss Griffiths attended Hereford County Hospital after Stezaker punched her in the face, causing a wound that had to be closed with staples.

Stezaker was arrested in June after he made a phone call to a friend of Miss Griffiths, during which he made threats against his then partner.

He was found to be in possession of a quantity of cannabis at the time of his arrest.

In defence, Martin Butterworth said that 'profoundly ashamed' Stezaker had experienced a personal epiphany and had made a marked effort to rehabilitate himself in the time since the incidents took place.

He argued that Stezaker's behaviour may have been influenced by a number of factors including his childhood and use of drugs and alcohol, and that he had taken steps to considerably modify his behaviour.

Judge James Tindal told Stezaker: "You are a young man with your fair share of challenges, but that is not uncommon.

"What is depressingly common is that you dealt with your demons entirely wrongly.

"Before these offences you got yourself involved in arguments and assaulted a woman.

"A community order was imposed, but it is striking that it was precisely when you were given the support of the probation service that you embarked on this violence against Miss Griffiths.

"This was all about control and maximising fear."

"However, since November 2018, you have become a very different person.

"It is very uncommon for people to begin their own atonement, but you have done your best to accept responsibility."

But the judge said that despite the efforts Stezaker had made, he was still considered high risk by the probation service.

He was sentenced to 12 months for controlling and coercive behaviour, with two four month sentences for causing unnecessary suffering and actual bodily harm and one 28 day sentence for cannabis possession to run concurrently.

He pleaded not guilty to making threats to kill.