A thug who kicked a puppy 3ft into the air during an argument with his girlfriend is facing jail.

Lewis Gibson, 36, shouted at and shoved partner Nicola Moody in the street before her friend walked over with her dog, called Franky, to try and calm him down.

But in a fit of temper the yob booted the six-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy in the ribs.

The force of the blow launched Franky into the air, causing him to yelp in pain.

Gibson fled the scene as did the terrified dog which was later found "cowering" in a corner in a distressed state. Fortunately he wasn't injured.

The incident in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, was witnessed by three members of the public, including an off-duty policeman.

Gibson later claimed he had kicked the dog because he thought it was about to go for him. He also claimed he shoved his partner in an act of self-defence.

He was charged with assaulting Miss Moody and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, which he denied.

Magistrates in Poole heard the couple had been together for three years but had a turbulent relationship.

They began rowing in the street at 6pm on June 29 this year.

PC Scott Norman, of Thames Valley Police, was staying in a house in the street and looked outside when he heard shouting.

He said Gibson walked toward Miss Moody "very aggressively".

He said: "She put her hand up to keep him a distance away. He slapped her hand away and gave her a shove. She had to take several steps back.

"She was definitely scared, I could tell by her voice and demeanor."

PC Norman went to get his phone and call the police so he missed the attack on the dog.

Witness Robert Barabas said he saw Miss Moody and her friend, Anna Taylor, walk away from Gibson wit the dog on a lead when he kicked it.

He said: "He kicked it from behind under the ribs. The dog flew at least half a metre into the air and then yelled in pain."

Cyclist Satpal Sandhu added: "The dog was on a leash, I couldn't hear what she was saying to him but he turned to her, shouted and kicked the dog.

"The dog wasn't doing much, it wasn't even barking. It visibly went up in the air by about a metre and yelped."

The court heard a police officer went to Miss Moody's flat afterwards and saw the dog cowering, curled up in a tight ball, clearly very shaken and in a distressed state.

Gibson failed to turn up at court for his trial but magistrates said the witness statements were consistent and found Gibson guilty of assault and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal in his absence.

The magistrates said the case crossed the custody threshold and issued a warrant for Gibson's arrest.

He will be sentenced at a later date.