They started as spanking sex games inspired by the Fifty Shades blockbuster.

But the private passions of GP Elvira Blakemore, 41, and her multi-millionaire lover James Austin ended in an ugly courtroom showdown amid allegations of a brutal caning.

The 57-year-old businessman said he was forced to dial 999 after the petite doctor left him covered in dozens of bleeding welts.

He claimed she hit him so hard with a bamboo cane that it snapped. But Blakemore insisted the caning was consensual and Austin was telling her: "Go on baby."

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A jury took just 15 minutes to clear her of assault.

Croydon Crown Court heard the couple met via an internet dating site and enjoyed a whirlwind romance. Austin proposed on their fifth date, at a five-star hotel in Paris.

Blakemore moved into his 3.6 million ($8.2m) mansion in Locksbottom, Kent, and the couple had twin sons.

They began to experiment sexually after Blakemore is said to have shown an interest in Fifty Shades Of Grey. Austin said the couple kept a cane in their bedroom after he joked about their mutual enjoyment of spanking.

He said the couple went to Ann Summers and bought certain items, including a spanking paddle. The court heard that Austin signed a gift: "Personal spanker to naughty Dr Elvira", and she signed an email to him as: "Personal Spanker". Austin said at first Blakemore was spanked, adding: "It began with just hands and then the paddle and Elvira was the recipient."

However, their relationship was said in court to have been tempestuous. As it crumbled, Austin held an engagement champagne barbecue last year during which he gave Blakemore a 20,000 ring.

But he claimed she marred the occasion with snide comments and hit him with the cane after he passed out naked in a drunken stupor on their bed.

"I went to bed and was more or less asleep when she entered the room raging and started hitting me with a garden cane.

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"She was violently hitting me with the cane on the back. There was a cut on my cheek also, but she just kept going and by the end there was blood on the bed."

Austin did not initially respond to the blows, claiming he was too drunk to fully appreciate what was going on. "There was a further attack in the lounge. Elvira had another go with the same cane," he said. "When the cane broke she poured wine on my back and said: 'Alcohol is good for the wounds'."

The court heard Austin dialled 999 after he was hit 25-35 times. The jury was shown a photograph of his back, which was covered in red marks down to the waistline.

In her defence, Blakemore told the court the spanking was consensual.

"I poured champagne on his back after. It's part of the pleasure, the cold champagne cools the skin."

She frequently sat on her fiance's back, hitting him. "I participated but I did not really enjoy it. James enjoyed being spanked," she said.

Blakemore who now runs cosmetic clinics in Essex and the Swiss resort of Verbier, was also accused of assaulting Austin a month later but the jury of nine women and three men also cleared her of this charge.

The couple have now split up.

- Daily Mail