A SHERIFF expressed surprise that women tolerated and repeatedly forgave domestic violence after jailing a man who battered his ex-girlfriend.

Sheriff Elizabeth ­McFarlane spoke out after hearing about Stephen Miller's prolonged and vicious attack on his former partner.

Jailing Miller for two years, the sheriff noted that women put up with the abuse "time and time again and forgave it".

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Miller, 35, admitted ­punching and kicking Suzanne Gordon on the head and body, following her then punching and kicking her repeatedly, causing her to fall. While she lay helpless in the kitchen, he continued punching and kicking her on he head and body, leaving her injured.

The assault took place in a house in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, last month, the town's sheriff court heard.

Neil McPherson, defending, said Miller had been in relationships "with several young ladies, then ends up in prison".

He added that Miller described having "had a great deal of affection" for his victim. But Sheriff McFarlane told Miller he punched and kicked Miss Gordon on the head and body then repeated the attack, "causing her to slide down the fridge to the floor where you continued to punch and kick her.

"Now you tell me through your agent that you have a great deal of affection for her. You have a strange way of showing it. One thing that strikes me in this jurisdiction is that women tolerate this behaviour time and time again and forgive it."

Sheriff McFarlane told Miller, a prisoner at Barlinnie Jail in Glasgow, that custody was inevitable.

Passing sentence, she added: "I'll give you plenty of time to reflect and maybe give Miss Gordon time as well."

Scottish Women's Aid said one in five women are victims of domestic abuse.