A ‘FUNCTIONING’ alcoholic who regularly drinks three bottles of wine a day headbutted his wife of 24 years in a drink-fuelled row, a court heard.

Paul Fletcher, 45, of Bradburys Lane, Pickmere, attacked wife Christine in one of several incidents of domestic violence during their marriage.

Halton Magistrates Court heard on Friday how Fletcher headbutted the victim twice to the face and punched her arm during the drunken confrontation.

The defendant was described in court as a ‘functioning’ alcoholic, as he works full time on a farm and caravan site, but drinks heavily when not working.

Richard Sealy, prosecuting, said the incident happened on March 2 at an address on Thelwall Lane, Latchford.

Mrs Fletcher had also been drinking beer, the court heard.

“The defendant disputed pushing her and causing her to stumble,” said Mr Sealy.

“He accepts he has headbutted her face at least twice and punched her to the arm.”

The court heard Mrs Fletcher suffered bruising to the eye and arm, and a cut to the head, during the attack, although she did not require hospital treatment.

A ‘trivial’ argument was said to have sparked the assault.

Her husband has now been banned from going within 100m of her Thelwall Lane home, or from contacting his wife, who says the marriage is over.

The court heard there has been other incidents of violence during the marriage, but Fletcher said he is ‘contrite and remorseful’.

Police were informed two days after the latest attack, and the defendant had hoped to rekindle the relationship.

Those hopes were ended by the restraining order being imposed. It will last for two years.

Fletcher, who pleaded guilty to assault by beating on March 31, was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

Sue Dodd, chair of the bench, said: “You are not going to prison today.

“You did, however, come very close to it.”

Fletcher will also be under supervision for two years and undergo a domestic violence programme.