A MAN held a terrified mum-of-two "hostage" in her bedroom with a kitchen knife during a persistent campaign of abuse, a court heard.

Richard Howard, of Parade Street in Llangollen, appeared before Mold Crown Court for sentencing on Friday.

The 44-year-old had previously admitted one count of controlling and coercive behaviour, as well as four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, against his then partner Laura Hough.

Matthew Dunford, prosecuting, told the court the offences happened between May and August this year.

They had started a relationship in February and partly due to the pandemic, Howard started living at her home in Llangollen.

He had been furloughed from work and later lost his job, the court heard, which led to him drinking more, while his partner worked from home.

Howard began to become "a nuisance", playing loud music and then behaving in a controlling manner - questioning Ms Hough and accusing her of cheating on him.

Mr Dunford said on May 20, following an argument, he grabbed her by both arms causing bruising.

She locked herself in the bathroom but Howard attempted to force entry, kicking the door so hard he broke the lock, while shouting; "come out or I'll kill you."

While trying to prevent him from getting through the door Ms Hough called a friend, who called the police, and Howard left.

On July 3, Mr Dunford said the 44-year-old had been drinking and came into his partner's bedroom holding a "large kitchen knife."

The next morning she tried to leave with her two children by car when Howard was at the shop but he jumped into the passenger seat and told her "you're not going anywhere."

She gave him the car keys, but had a second set and was able to drive away - staying with a friend in England.

While there, she received abusive messages from Howard including threats to report her to social services.

After returning to her home, Howard continued to accuse her of cheating, warning her that he had "men watching her."

In July he pushed and pulled her, as well as placing his hand over her mouth, which caused bruising.

Towards the end of the month they were preparing to go on holiday to Greece and despite her wanting to bed early Howard refused to let her sleep - wanting her instead to "stay up drinking".

She wanted to make a phone call but he grabbed the phone, mistakenly pressing the SOS button on the device and alerting the emergency services.

On the call, the court was told, "slaps and thuds" could be heard along with a man's voice.

He then lay on her and put all of his weight on her chest, which left her struggling to breathe, before biting her hand.

The couple went to Manchester on August 1, due to spend a night in a hotel before going abroad, and met some of Ms Hough's friends at a bar.

She confided in her friends about Howard's violent behaviour and they raised concerns.

Deciding to go ahead with the holiday, she flew to Greece with Howard - who fell asleep by the pool due to intoxication on the first day.

After being woken by hotel staff he returned to his room and began arguing with Ms Hough before pushing her forcefully backwards.

The holiday company gave him a warning about his behaviour but his drinking continued.

He returned to the room on one of the days and told her "you're really going to get f***** up this time."

Ms Hough fled and received threatening messages telling her to "run" and "look over your shoulder" - also referencing "bullet".

She complained to the police, following which Howard was arrested.

When interviewed by police he denied the offences, claiming Ms Hough had sustained her injuries by falling over when drunk.

In a victim statement, she said Howard told her she was being watched by men he knew who had "weapons".

She said there there were times when he would keep her "hostage in the bedroom" - sitting on her bed with a kitchen knife and making threats.

He made her feel scared for her life, she said.

Mr Dunford also listed Howard's previous convictions - three of which related to offences against separate former partners.

Simon Rogers, defending, said: "Through me, he wishes to apologise for the distress and hurt he has caused through his actions.

"This defendant has behaved in a way that is deeply troubling towards a female partner. "The defendant wishes me to stress that a major contributing factor to these offences was the poor state of mind following the loss of his employment.

"Ordinarily he is hard working."

Judge Niclas Parry told Howard: "For the fourth time and with the fourth different partner you have demonstrated your contempt for women.

"This is a case about bullying and control - you accused her of cheating and made threats to kill her.

"You terrified her with a large kitchen knife. This was persistent abuse."

Judge Parry jailed Howard for two-and-a-half years.

He also imposed a restraining order prohibiting Howard from contacting Laura Hough for ten years - save through a solicitor in order to arrange the return of his personal belongings.

The Judge also ordered him to pay a victim surcharge of £190.00.