A "VICIOUS and nasty" thug has been spared jail "by a whisker" after slamming a woman's head on tiles seven times.

Mitchell Dowling launched into a violent attack on his ex-partner at their home in Rayleigh following a night out where he took cocaine and drank alcohol.

The 32-year-old of no fixed address got home with the woman on November 4 last year, and she went up to bed.

When Dowling didn't join her, she went to see what he was doing.

Dowling was in fact going through the woman's phone, and then began accusing her of cheating on him.

Prosecuting at Southend Crown Court, Alex Matthews said: "He punched her in the head, and grabbed her by the hair and slammed her down onto tiled floor seven times.

"He placed his hands around her neck saying 'you cheated on me, you cheated on me'.

"She came around to him kicking her in the head.

"The next thing was excruciating pain coming from her right ear.

"The defendant was biting it."

Thankfully, the woman's injuries were not life-changing, having suffered mainly bruising and lumps.

Ms Matthews said it was "lucky" that the injuries were not more severe.

Dowling admitted assault and causing actual bodily harm.

Mitigating, Caroline Milroy said that the offending was "ugly" but that Dowling regretted his actions.

She said: "He comes before the court today completely ashamed.

"He has moved on with his life, he must take his responsibilities as an employer seriously.

"He said to me 'there's no way I am going back to custody again'."

Judge Andrew Hurst told the court that the victim has since withdrawn her support for a prosecution, but that does not mean Dowling deserved an "easy resolution".

He said: "This was a particularly nasty and unpleasant assault in her home in the middle of the night.

"What concerns me is there's a background of jealousy that goes on and on."

Dowling was given two years in prison suspended for the same period, with a two month curfew from 7pm to 6am, 50 days of rehabilitation and 260 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Hurst added: "You need every hour of that to reflect.

"You were within a whisker of going back to custody."