A Dunedin man sent a 4-year-old to bed so he could kick the boy's mother repeatedly as she lay on the ground.
"I'm going to prison for this, so I better make a good job," Richard Mason McQuarrie said.
The 31-year-old appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to three separate assaults on the woman and breaching a protection order.
But his prediction of incarceration was off the mark.
Judge Michael Turner sentenced him to four months' home detention, taking into account he had spent three months behind bars awaiting resolution.
The couple had only been together four months when McQuarrie's violent tendencies began to show on March 24.
They were at a boat ramp in Karitane when the defendant started throwing items out of his vehicle.
Sensing the impending rage, the victim fled but McQuarrie soon caught her and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground.
A witness riding by on a bicycle intervened and was promptly told by the man to "f*** off".
The passer-by chaperoned the woman to safety, but within two months she was the target of her partner's violence again.
While on bail, McQuarrie went to the victim's home and when an argument broke out he threw a bouquet of flowers at her and followed it up with a slap.
The defendant then dragged her to the lounge by the hair.
After ordering the woman's son to go to bed, he kicked the victim eight or nine times in the upper body and told her: "I should knock your teeth out."
Later, as she tried to clean the blood from her face, McQuarrie pushed her against the mirror.
In an attempt to get away from him, she said she had to pick up her daughter from school.
McQuarrie said he would drive.
On the way, the victim grabbed the steering wheel to try and crash the car so she could get the attention of police.
When that did not work, she escaped the vehicle when they had stopped and called for help.
A protection order was issued on June 7 because of concerns for her safety but 10 days later McQuarrie flagrantly breached it.
He again went to the woman's home.
When he grabbed her, she reached out to activate her police safety alarm in the lounge.
The defendant, however, punched her in the face and pushed her over before kicking her as she lay on the floor.
She was finally able to alert authorities 15 minutes later.
Judge Turner yesterday asked McQuarrie what had gone wrong.
"It all spiralled out of control really. I was in a bad place; I don't want to go back to that place again. I'll try and do whatever I can to make sure it never happens again," he said.
Counsel Alex Bligh said the relationship had involved methamphetamine use and had caused a decline in her client's mental health.
McQuarrie had experience as a painter and she said he hoped to return to that line of work.
While serving his sentence, the defendant was barred from contacting the victim.