A MAN chased his girlfriend through Southampton Common and choked her so hard she "thought she was going to die".

Michael Ashburn carried out the attack after his partner woke him from his sleep with a cramp pain in her leg.

He immediately lashed out, jumping on top of her before putting his hands around her throat.

The woman managed to escape, but Ashburn gave chase through the Common before she collapsed to the floor.

She later told Ashburn not to contact her again, only for him to subject her to two month campaign of harassment.

Now Ashburn has been jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm (ABH), harassment, causing criminal damage to a police car and breaching a previous suspended sentence.

Southampton Crown Court heard how Ashburn was living in a tent on the Common at the time of the incident in August last year.

During the night of the incident, Ashburn's girlfriend was sleeping with him in the tent when she woke up suddenly due to cramp.

Prosecutor Alec Williams said: "His response was to lose his temper. He gets angry. He stands up and grabs her by the throat.

"She (the victim) is in panic with the defendant on top of her and she is shouting and screaming. She thought she was going to die."

Mr Williams said the woman managed to escape from the tent and attempted to flee Ashburn, who gave chase, before collapsing to the floor.

Ashburn then carried the woman back to the tent.

Mr Williams said the woman then attempted to cut ties with Ashburn via a text message.

But the court heard that Ashburn then embarked on a "relentless" campaign of harassment between July and August.

Mr Williams said Ashburn repeatedly called the woman's phone, left 40 voicemails and left numerous text messages.

He said the woman was forced to change her number as a result of the harassment, sparking Ashburn to send her a number of emails.

Mr Williams added that Ashburn damaged a Vauxhall police car while officers attempted to arrest him.

In mitigation, Victoria Hill said Ashburn was homeless at the time of the incident, lived a "chaotic lifestyle" and was abusing drugs.

Judge Peter Henry sentenced him to a total of 20 months in prison.

He said: "This was an unpleasant and repeated assault. You know you behaved badly and you have recognised this and you know you have to sort that out."

Ashburn, of Wessex Way, Salisbury, was also made the subject of a five year restraining order, banning him from contacting his victim and her parents for five years.