A man has admitted a common assault after he “recklessly” made his partner fearful of violence, by putting his fist near her face to show her how badly the family dog had bitten it.

Ellis Butcher, 48, committed the offence on New Year’s Eve.

At Carlisle’s Rickergate-based magistrates’ court, Butcher’s defence lawyer Karen Templeton said Butcher was “genuinely sorry” for his actions.

“He stressed that nothing like this has ever happened before,” she told the court.

“He was with Helen Tate [his now former partner] for many years.

“But a number of factors last year were causing him a great deal of stress. He was struggling with the death of his mum and his father was not well.

“Most importantly, he had a lot of pressure at work and the culmination was that he left that work on December 20; which in turn left him with more worries about finances."

She continued: “On the night of the assault, the family dog had bitten him and he had a nasty injury on his hand. His partner had arrived on the scene and they were arguing.

“He raised his fist to her face but he didn’t touch her; he was trying to make the point that he had blood dripping off his hand, but he accepts that she anticipated violence and that constitutes common assault.”

The lawyer said that Butcher, a journalist who until recently was a local democracy reporter supplying stories to the BBC, The Mail and the Westmorland Gazette, had lost his relationship and had now relocated to the north of Scotland.

“There has been no further trouble,” continued the lawyer.

She said Butcher had effectively punished himself by moving away and he had endured having the case hanging over him for months.

The lawyer added: “I’d suggest that he is not someone who is ever likely to be before the court again.”

District Judge Gerald Chalk gave Butcher, formerly of Penrith, credit for his guilty plea and noted that he was a man of previous good character.

He said: “Whilst I accept there was a breach of trust and it occurs while in drink, I note there was no physical attack; no physical violence.

"It is just a threat of violence which was perceived.”

He fined Butcher £250 and ordered him to pay £85 costs as well as £32 to fund victim services.