‘Volatile’ Hartlepool boxer who broke wife’s nose escapes jail term

Michael Hunter, who admitted attacking his former wife.
Michael Hunter, who admitted attacking his former wife.

A champion boxer who used his fighting skills to break his wife’s nose has walked free from court.

Michael Hunter was given a suspended sentence at Teesside Crown Court for an assault on Joanne Brackstone which left her needing reconstruction surgery.

He bombarded her with texts, up to 50 a day.

Emma Atkinson

Speaking after the case, Ms Brackstone said: “The sentence is what I expected. It has been a difficult time for the family, but I am moving on with my life. I am getting there.”

The court heard the couple had an on/off relationship from 2009, including short periods of separation.

Ms Brackstone left Hunter last August citing his drinking and cocaine use.

“The victim describes Mr Hunter as volatile and controlling,” said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting. “He tried to prevent her going out, and would try to trace her movements when she did.

“On the evening of the assault in February 2010, they had been out separately, but both returned home to Hartlepool.

“An argument developed during which Hunter punched her on the nose, causing her to fall back.

“She also suffered a black eye, but did not tell medical staff at the time how she sustained the injuries.

“The nose was re-set on February 18.

“Hunter later tried to explain the medical treatment to police by telling them his wife had cosmetic surgery.”

The court heard the couple have two children, aged three and two years.

“In August of last year the victim left the defendant,” said Ms Atkinson. “She cited his drinking and cocaine use. He bombarded her with texts, sometimes up to 50 a day.

“Some of these were threatening and abusive, telling her to ‘expect trouble tomorrow’ and to ‘watch what I am going to do to you’.

“In April of this year the couple were in the process of divorcing.

“Hunter refused to cooperate over access arrangements to the children, wanting to return the child earlier than arranged.

“He did this on April 16, mocking her and then kicking her in the stomach.

“This happened in the presence of the children, who were clearly distressed by it.”

The court heard Ms Brackstone still feels frightened of and intimidated by Hunter.

She believes his behaviour has led to the children swearing and behaving badly.

Hunter, 37, of Eskdale Road, Hartlepool, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, harassment, and breach of a non-molestation order.

He is a former British and European super bantamweight title holder who retired from the sport in 2012.

Mark Styles, mitigating, said: “Mr Hunter has been able to provide references from a number of people who speak well of him.

“The most serious offence - the assault - is now five years ago. Things have changed since then, and he now realises his behaviour was unacceptable.”

The Recorder, Mr Jonathan Aitken, sentenced Hunter to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and 100 hours of community work.

The Recorder said: “The references speak well of you.

“This is something I have seen before in cases of domestic violence - it is like you are two people.

“You developed your boxing skills, and used those skills to punch your wife.

“The courts must offer protection to those in close relationships.

“You must realise if you do lose your temper again, you will go straight to prison.”

Hunter was ordered to pay £400 costs, and made the subject of a restraining order banning him from direct contact with his victim for five years.

He is allowed to contact her through solicitors to arrange contact with his children.