A MAN jailed for assaulting his wife repeatedly defied a court order protecting her when he was released from prison, York magistrates heard.

East Yorkshire magistrates banned Michael Johnston, 44, from contacting his partner under a 12-month restraining order when they gave him a 12-week prison term on January 8, said Cathy Turnbull, prosecuting.

But on March 27, he rang her and he continued to contact her for the next month. On April 7, he started using a mobile number she didn't recognise and when she texted him saying "Who is this?" he replied "Your best friend and soul mate, you know who I am."

After a gap of some months, he rang her in November three times using a withheld number. He was arrested and sent in custody to York magistrates.

Forklift driver Johnston, of Appleby Glade, Haxby, pleaded guilty to three breaches of a restraining order and was given a 12-month community order with 25 days' rehabilitative activities including tackling his alcohol abuse and the way he conducts relationships and 60 hours' unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and an £85 statutory surcharge.

York magistrates made a new restraining order, this time for five years, to protect his wife.

For him, James McGowan said: "He has started divorce proceedings. He wishes to provide his wife with the freedom she clearly deserves."

Johnston committed the offences when in drink. He had lost job, marriage and home when he was jailed and had turned to alcohol. That had led to a downward spiral and the first two breaches of the order. He had also become depressed.

But since April, he had started to tackle his alcohol abuse and mental illness and got a job.

The start of the divorce proceedings in November had led to him turning to drink again and the final offence.