A MAN who subjected his girlfriend to relentless psychological and emotional abuse has been handed an indefinite restraining order after admitting controlling and coercive behaviour.

Kirk Rotherham was punished at Bournemouth Crown after the court heard about his jealousy when his girlfriend worked alongside male colleagues.

The woman, who was in a relationship with the 29-year-old for 12 months, was forced to cancel around 50 shifts in her job as a care worker and was forced to let Rotherham know where she was and who she was with.

His victim told police she only continued contact with him to keep him calm because she feared for her own safety.

The court heard that he would demand video calls on the hour, every hour, to verify her whereabouts and her company.

On one occasion the defendant turned up at her university, despite her saying she did not want him to visit.

He turned up unannounced at her place of work three times and she would often see his car parked outside her home address.

When she finally told police what was going on, she returned to her home to see Rotherham leaving the address in his car.

He also called or texted her 56 times within a period of less than five hours.

Prosecuting, Charles Gabb told the court: "He wanted to control just about every single thing she did. He criticised her for choosing work over him. He made her think nobody would ever want her, it was a powerful form of mental abuse."

Controlling and coercive behaviour was introduced as a criminal offence in December 2015 to close the gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour, which amounts to psychological and emotional abuse, but stops short of physical abuse.

Detective Constable Chris Griffin, of Dorset Police, said: "Nobody deserves to be the victim of this kind of psychological and emotional abuse. We are committed to protecting those who are subjected to this behaviour and giving them the confidence to come forward and report offences.

"I hope this case demonstrates that we will take action against offenders such as Kirk Rotherham.

"I would like to praise the victim in this case for having the courage to come forward and for supporting our investigation."

Sentencing Rotherham to a three-year community order with a requirement to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community, as well as a rehabilitation activity requirement and condition to attend the ‘building better relationships’ accredited scheme, Judge Stephen Climie said: "Your behaviour was not only criminal, it was despicable. You should be, but I'm not convinced you are, deeply ashamed. How would you feel if your mother was in a relationship with a man who treated her like that?"

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or if you know someone who is, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or go to dorsetforyou.com/dvahelp.

In an emergency, dial 999.