A GUTTER cleaner who subjected a university student to months of torment, finally holding her captive in his flat and twice suffocating her with bedclothes until she passed out, has been jailed for over a year.

George MacDonald, 23, met his victim, who was 18 at the time of the offences, when she was studying at the University of Dundee.

They began going out at the beginning of last year but within months, he had begun a course of abusive behaviour towards her, Falkirk Sheriff Court was told.

In April 2022, she was out driving with a friend in Dundee when she became aware that MacDonald was repeatedly trying to contact her.

She ignored his phone calls and texts, but then received a series of Snapchat messages, saying, "I'm going to burn your car", "Watch your back" and "You're getting torture".

The same month, in a Stirling nightclub, when she was standing with another man, he seized her by the neck and later accused her of trying to "get with" the male.

In a scene in the street later, she fell to the ground.

Their rocky relationship continued, with another incident in May, in MacDonald's flat in Union Street, Tillicoultry.

Prosecutor James Moncrieff said: "He got down on one knee and was begging her not to leave him when all of a sudden he bit her on the right thigh."

The bite didn't break the skin, but caused bruising.

On June 16, 2022,  the woman, who is from the Stirling area, stayed overnight at MacDonald's flat in Tillicoultry.

The next day she told him she wanted to go and see her mother, but he forced her to stay, and placed a broken chain necklace round her neck and "pulled it tight", causing reddening.

Twice during an all-day ordeal he put bedcovers over her head and held them down so tightly she was unable to breathe, losing consciousness on both occasions, and once again placed the broken jewellery chain round her neck and pulled it tight.

He detained her in the flat until 9pm, when she told him her throat was painful and she needed to go to a nearby shop to get a drink.

He initially refused to let her, but then agreed that they should drive to the shop together.

When they got there, he stayed in the car while she went inside.

Mr Moncrieff said she used the opportunity to escape and contact her mother.

Police were called, and MacDonald was later arrested.

He appeared for sentence on Wednesday, December 13, after pleading guilty to engaging in a course of domestic abuse of the woman to her injury and danger of her life.

Solicitor-advocate Stephen Biggam, for MacDonald, said: "I don't think he'll want to hear it, but I don't think he is someone who should be unsupervised, going forward."

MacDonald wept in the dock as Sheriff Christopher Shead told him: "I have to consider whether a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal. That's always difficult. You haven't served such a sentence before, and you're young. I'm afraid I've reached the conclusion that this offence does call for that sentence."

He jailed him for 13-and-a-half months, ordered him to undergo six months' social work supervision on release, and imposed a non-harassment order banning him from contacting the woman for five years.