A VIOLENT OFFENDER with a ‘history of domestic violence’ walked free from court after assaulting his wife.

Mark Harding, 54, appeared at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday to be sentenced on one count of ‘assault by beating’.

Prosecuting Claire Brocklebank told the court how, after a night of drinking in Manchester, Harding and his wife got into a taxi to head home to Warrington.

The pair have been married for 18 months and together for six years.

Immediately prior to getting in the taxi, the 54-year-old got into a heated verbal altercation with another man, having to be separated from them.

Aided by CCTV footage shown from the taxi, Ms Brocklebank described how Harding ‘threw his wife around the taxi’.

He grabbed her, and violently pulled her around the taxi, swearing at and threatening her.

Harding also stuck her in a headlock, with his wife pleading with the taxi driver to call police and screaming ‘get off me now’.

He told her to shut up, telling her to ‘think of her son’ as she begged for the police to be called. When the taxi driver called the police, Harding let her go but continued to verbally abuse her.

Upon police arriving, the 54-year-old, from Gregory Close, Old Hall, was said to still be acting aggressively to police. In a police interview, he gave an account that Ms Brocklebank said ‘did not bear any resemblance’ to the CCTV footage of the incident.

In an initial interview, the victim said she was ‘scared he would do this again’, and that ‘he might take their son’. She later decided she would not support the prosecution and retracted this statement.

The prosecutor went on to point towards Harding’s lengthy criminal record, having been sentenced on 18 occasions for 29 separate offences.

The most recent was for battery in May of 2016, when he was seen by a neighbour yelling at a partner to get back in the house before dragging her to the ground. When she ran off, he chased after her.

Defending the Warrington-man, Rebecca Caulfield told the court that he ‘accepts his responsibility’, but accepted that a pre-sentence report said Harding showed a ‘lack of interest’ in reflecting on his role in the incident.

She also went on to accept that ‘the force used by him is disproportionate’.

Judge Recorder Arwel Jones, presiding over the case, said: “You’re 55 now, you need to be putting this criminal behaviour behind you.

“It was a shameful incident. This is not the first time you have shown your anger to a partner.”

Judge Jones went on to issue an 18-month community order to Harding which he described as ‘onerous’.

He went on to say: “You are running out of chances.”