A THUG has been spared jail thanks to the girlfriend he throttled during a prolonged street attack in front of motorists.

The woman appeared to suffer whiplash when Liam Paul Thomas, 25, pushed her face, forcing her backwards, said Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting.

She doubled up and vomited after he put his hands to her neck until she was red-faced and apparently choking, and when passers-by asked if she was all right, shook her head.

Thomas also hit and slapped her face and head several times during the incident at 8.30am in Holgate Road, York, on April 19, the assistant prosecutor told York magistrates. He gave one-finger gestures to a passing motorist who tried to intervene and a second motorist who called police.

When officers arrived, the victim was lying on her back on the ground with Thomas crouched over her. She was crying and had red marks round her neck.

He was on parole at the time from a five-year sentence passed in 2014 for giving one victim a long-term head injury and taking part in a city centre mob attack on students in a separate assault.

The girlfriend declined to give police a statement and later sent a letter supporting him to the magistrates.

Magistrates said his behaviour was “absolutely atrocious” but his girlfriend’s letter had persuaded them not to give him another prison sentence.

“I hope you deserve the generosity of spirit that young lady has shown in that letter,” they told him.

Hotel porter Thomas, of Arran Place, off Malton Road, York, pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.

He was given a two-year community order with a 30-day rehabilitative programme on how to conduct domestic relationships, 20 days’ rehabilitative activities and 150 hours’ unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and an £85 statutory surcharge.

For Thomas, Keith Whitehouse said the couple had been to a party. “He simply lost his cool and acted in a red mist, having had too much alcohol,” he said. “He really throws himself on the mercy of the court.”

Thomas appeared in custody, as he was recalled to prison to finish serving the five-year sentence. His solicitor said he expects to continue working at a local hotel when he is released in July.