A MAN who broke his wife's ankle when he pushed her down the stairs during an argument has been given a suspended jail term, after a judge heard their marriage was over and he was seeking help for his problems controlling his anger.

Adam Hearn shoved the mother of his children when the row became physical about 15 years ago, accidentally sending her down the steps.

The 47-year-old admitted assaulting her a second time, last summer, when they were again arguing, when he appeared at Swindon crown court this week.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said according to Mrs Hearn the marriage seemed to go wrong fairly early.

He said there were always two sides to a story, but when they argued at the top of the stairs in 2002 he shoved her, causing her to fall down the flight and break her ankle.

Mr Meeke said that it was accepted that he had not intended to push her down the stairs, but that she fell and suffered the injury.

In June last year there was another disagreement where he pushed her and held her down.

Hearn, of Hartham Lane, Biddestone, near Chippenham, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm, assault by beating and common assault on another female.

He denied charges of actual bodily harm, another count of assault by beating, and coercive or controlling behaviour and prosecutors said they would not seek a trial on those matters.

Anna Midgley, defending, said that he accepted that during the relationship he had not always behaved well.

She said when he was growing up in Australia his home was destroyed and the family was broken up. As a result she said he approached all things in the marriage with utmost importance and sought control of many things to ensure their security.

She said he had now lost his home and his family as a result of what happened and has been to see his GP and got referred for counselling.

Passing sentence, Judge Michael Harington said "The matter to which you pleaded guilty to is one of unlawfully inflicting grievous bodily harm on your wife. That was committed as long ago as November 20, 2002.

"Clearly this was a very turbulent marriage. I have read your wife's description of your time together and it makes for very disturbing reading.

"Obviously I only sentence you for the offences to which you have pleaded guilty.

"The first and most serious matter, during a verbal argument with your wife, upstairs, tensions escalated. It became physical and you pushed her and she fell down the stairs causing injury."

He passed a one-year jail term suspended for 18 months with 100 hours of unpaid work and also imposed a five-year restraining order.