A SOUTHAMPTON martial arts expert has been jailed for nine years after attacking his girlfriend and leaving her in a "life-threatening" condition.

Nicola O'Neill suffered a serious brain injury, a lacerated liver and a dislocated arm a during prolonged assault carried out by Nigel Paddington.

She was knocked unconscious in the incident and spent a week in hospital, Southampton Crown Court was told.

In a victim impact read to the court by Catherine Donnelly, prosecuting, Ms O'Neill said: "There was an 80 per cent chance I could have died."

Paddington, 40, of Little Quob Lane, West End, had previously pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent. He was handed an extended sentence - nine years in prison followed by three on licence.

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He was also given a ten-year restraining order banning him from having any contact with his victim.

Ms O'Neill was attacked during a visit to his home on a hot day in July 2020, the court heard.

Ms Donnelly said the defendant flew into a rage after realising she was not intending to wear her bikini top in his garden.

During the subsequent assault he strangled her, kicked her in the head, punched and slapped her, and dragged her around the sitting room by her ankle. He also threatened to kill her, the court heard.

Ms O'Neill eventually lost consciousness and woke up in hospital the next day.

In her statement she said: "I ached all over and had a terrible headache. For the first few days I couldn't eat or drink anything without being sick, and could barely walk.

"When my family collected me I was in a wheelchair. I could see they were visibly shocked."

Ms O'Neill said she had to take seven weeks off work as well as surrendering her driving licence for six months. The attack also left her with no sense of smell.

Ms Donnelly said the victim suffered life-threatening injuries in the incident and could experience seizures in the future.

Gemma White, mitigating, said her client had committed a serious offence but added that Ms O'Neill had made a "relatively good recovery".

But Judge Nicholas Rowland said her "wholly innocuous" behaviour had resulted in her receiving a prolonged beating from a trained martial arts practitioner.

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