A domestic violence victim has been branded "silly" by a judge after hearing she intended to take her violent partner back.
District Judge Mark Hamill said he was going to protect Pamela Scott "if it kills him" after being told that the troubled couple intend to be reconciled.
Mr Hamill was told that despite Ms Scott "pretending to be dead" to stop her partner Darren Carson Rankin from strangling her, she was going to take him back when he gets out of prison.
The judge told Newtownards Magistrates Court the offences amounted to an "appalling, appalling" episode of domestic violence and that the news of the couple's reconciliation was similarly "appalling".
"I cannot believe that anyone would be so silly," he said.
The judge added that despite Rankin serving another jail sentence for robbery until September, he was going to defer sentencing him until then, and swore: "I'm going to protect this woman from this man if it kills me."
He had earlier heard that the 27-year-old was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs when he launched a "vicious and violent assault" on his partner, punching her repeatedly in the face and "slamming" her head into floor.
A prosecution lawyer described how at one stage Rankin had both hands around Ms Scott's throat choking her and when she felt herself about to pass out she "pretended to be dead", and he let go. This gave her the opportunity to flee to an upstairs bedroom.
Rankin sped away in her car and after Ms Scott phoned the police, officers stopped the vehicle at the junction of the Dunelvy Road in Portaferry.
Rankin, of no fixed address but originally from the Ballysillan area, pleaded guilty to causing his girlfriend actual bodily harm, drink-driving, driving without a licence or insurance and taking a car without consent.
Making a plea in mitigation, Rankin's solicitor revealed that he is serving a jail term for a different offence and is due for release on September 5, and that despite the "awful, shocking" attack "she still loves him and is going to take him back".
In taking the "unusual" step of deferring passing sentence until September, Judge Hamill said depending on the contents of a probation report, Carson would either be jailed for eight months or spend three years on probation to do the "men overcoming domestic violence programme".
He warned if there was any breach "I'm going to run this (eight-month) sentence, which he richly deserves".