A MAN who repeatedly punched his partner said he only stopped because a 15-year-old girl witnessed the sickening attack.

Robert McKeague, of Johnston Road, Renton, pleaded guilty in April to an assault so serious a sheriff branded him “troubled”.

The 37-year-old had returned home around 1.30am on February 3, this year, followed shortly after by his partner.

A verbal argument quickly escalated and McKeague punched her repeatedly in the face.

A 15-year-old girl witnessed the attack, which had changed from punching to kicking.

McKeague’s partner was screaming and asking for help and for him to stop. She also attempted to defend herself and scratched at his face.

When he stopped, he said: “I only stopped because she’s here.”

The teenager convinced McKeague’s partner to leave and contact the police.

Depute fiscal Martina McGuigan told Dumbarton Sheriff Court last week that police found scratch marks on McKeague’s face and that his partner was visibly shaken.

The woman initially cooperated with police but later refused to sign a statement, said the prosecutor.

Sheriff William Gallacher said he was “extremely troubled by this case” and not satisfied with the social work report, which was limited to McKeague’s perspective.

He said: “This is a despicable, sustained, vindictive attack.”

Defence solicitor Danielle Docherty said her client had never appeared before the court and was “mortified by his behaviour”.

She said: “He accepts there’s a lot of work that’s going to have to be done with his partner.

“He had limited recollection, but didn’t dispute that it took place.

“Marriage counselling is not something they are going to consider at this time. He doesn’t have an alcohol problem. These actions are extremely out of character.

“His partner advises me she does want to continue the relationship. He has not been in the family home since. He is very keen to return.”

Sheriff Gallacher said: “I think there’s a risk the accused and his partner are deluded as to the seriousness of this matter.

“The level of prolonged and sustained violence is not attributable just to alcohol. How do I ensure the reality is this cannot happen again?”

McKeague was put under the supervision of social workers for the next 15 months and must do 140 hours of unpaid work in the community.

There will be a review of his progress on June 26 and a report on whether McKeague is suitable for the PAIR programme for tackling domestic abuse.

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