A BUSINESSMAN who grabbed his girlfriend around the throat, picked her up by her legs and threw her over a 20-foot bridge has been spared a prison sentence after she told a judge he is a “nice man”.

Clara Martin suffered a broken neck after landing head-first onto concrete when she was attacked by partner Andrew Pilliner at midnight on September 21 last year.

Despite the severity of her injuries, she has made a good recovery, a court heard this week.

Ms Martin was thrown from a bridge over the Lower Gardens near the BH2 complex. She told police officers from her hospital bed that she still loves Pilliner and did not want him to face any charges.

The couple have four children together.

Pilliner, 42, of Creedy Drive in Christchurch, admitted unlawful wounding. During a sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, prosecutor Mike Mason said Pilliner, who runs at printing supply company, had been on a night out with Ms Martin when they began rowing.

“He was seen to grab her around the throat with his right hand and push her backwards over a wall. He then picked up her legs and threw her completely over the wall,” Mr Mason said.

“She sustained a serious injury, but she could have been killed or suffered a brain injury.”

The area was in darkness and the defendant didn’t know what was on the other side of the drop, it was heard. One witness dashed to help Ms Martin while door staff at the Moon in the Square pub held Pilliner until police arrived.

A member of the public asked Pilliner: “What have you done?” The defendant replied: “Do you want to be next?”

Pavlos Panayi QC, mitigating, said the victim told police that her parter was a “nice man” and “good father”.

The barrister said: “I don’t in any way seek to belittle his actions – it’s shocking. He could easily have killed or paralysed the woman he loves. He is shocked by that.

“But she sits in court today to prove to you, ‘I am not frightened of him. This is not a story of domestic violence or an abusive relationship.’”

Pilliner consumes a “shocking amount of alcohol”, some two to three hundred units a week, including five or six bottles of Prosecco a day on top of two or three bottles of spirits, it was heard.

Judge Jonathan Fuller took the “exceptional course” of suspending Pilliner’s 16-month jail term for 18 months. The defendant was also ordered to carry out 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay £510 costs.

“You assaulted your partner and manhandled her into the unknown. The injuries could have been catastrophic,” the judge said.

After the hearing, Pilliner and Ms Martin walked out of court together and embraced.