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A drunken man who bit his ex-partner's head when she was trying to look after him has been called ''cowardly'' by a judge.
Thomas Derek Woolley (25) initially appeared in the Dunedin District Court in February last year on an assault charge against his ex-partner.
He had argued with her after a drinking binge and forcibly picked her up three times.
It got him a six-month deferred sentence.
If Woolley kept his nose clean there would be no further punishment.
But on September 1, he was again with the victim and again intoxicated.
The woman was so worried about Woolley's state she took his car keys to prevent him driving.
''The victim on this occasion was simply trying to look after you,'' Judge Emma Smith said yesterday.
''What she deserved from you was gratitude and thanks.''
She got the opposite.
Woolley smashed his fist through a ranchslider to unlock a door.
Again, the victim acted in a ''kind and graceful fashion'', calling an ambulance to tend to the defendant's wounded arm.
Woolley, however, thought she was calling police, snatched the phone and threw her on to a bed.
The defendant then bit the woman on the back of the head, the court heard.
''It's not only gross offending, it's cowardly,'' Judge Smith said.
Woolley's drunken state did not excuse the assault, she said.
The incidents, combined with his criminal history, the judge said, indicated a lack of respect for others.
His plight was also hindered by clashing with a Probation officer at a pre-sentence interview.
Counsel Cate Andersen said her client took full responsibility for his indiscretions and emphasised he had stable employment.
Woolley was sentenced to 80 hours' community work and three months' community detention.
A further appearance in court on violence charges would likely get the defendant incarcerated, the judge said.