A FORMER prison officer who assaulted two women to injury and inflicted psychological abuse on them over a period spanning three years is today behind bars.

Lewis McGarrigle was sentenced to seven months in prison after Greenock Sheriff Court was told of his violent, intimidating and controlling behaviour towards his victims.

The colour drained from his face as lawman Thomas Ward told him that jail was the only appropriate way of dealing with him.

McGarrigle, of Port Glasgow, gave one of the women a black eye by elbowing her in the face during one attack and made the other too scared to even talk to male colleagues at work.

Prosecutor David Glancy told the court how the 'jealous' thug committed a catalogue of offences against the women between October 1, 2016 and May 1, 2018.

McGarrigle pleaded guilty to a total of six out of 11 charges which had been levelled against him — including a string of assaults and menacing behaviour which sparked fear and alarm.

In an incident in March last year he returned drunk to a flat he shared with one of his victims on Binnie Street in Gourock and set upon her while she was sleeping.

Fiscal depute Mr Glancy said: "She was wakened by him sitting on top of her on the bed and restraining her.

"Her screams alerted a neighbour and police were called."

He also pleaded guilty to restraining the woman on a couch, placing his hand over her mouth and striking her on the head to her injury.

It had been alleged that the 25-year-old also covered her nose and held a cushion against her face, however, this was struck out from the charge following talks between the Crown and his lawyers.

In another incident in May last year he threatened the second woman with violence and told her he would assault one of her male colleagues.

Mr Glancy said: "Both the accused and the woman were working as despatchers for the Scottish Ambulance Service at the time.

"It became increasingly apparent that the accused appeared to have major issues with jealously.

"In the staff canteen he challenged her about the fact that she was working alongside a male colleague.

"He told her, 'If you go with him I'll batter you and ragdoll him in the car park'."

Mr Glancy added: "There was no question that she had any interest in this person — she just simply sat beside him at work.

"But this was not the way things were perceived by the accused.

"His behaviour affected her working relationships because she was apprehensive to speak to any of her male colleagues."

McGarrigle was recently convicted at Glasgow Sheriff Court for assaulting the second woman to injury shortly before last Christmas, and was given a 90-hour unpaid work order for that offence.

His offending behaviour came to light last year when the two women became aware of each other and began discussing when their respective relationships with him began, the court was told.

Not guilty pleas to repeatedly punching internal walls, placing the first woman in fear and alarm, throwing a lighter at her head, sending threatening messages to her and repeatedly striking her on the head on various occasions were accepted.

McGarrigle's denial of an allegation of punching the second woman on the body, seizing her arm and twisting it to injury was also accepted.

He carried out two assaults on the first woman, including pushing her and causing her to fall and placing her in fear and alarm.

He also shouted and swore at the second woman, in what was described in court as a 'tantrum', because she was taking too long to phone him a taxi.

McGarrigle, of the Port's Boglestone Avenue, committed the offences there, in Gourock and Glasgow.

His lawyer said: "He wishes me to apologise to the complainers and the court and he accepts that his actions were unacceptable.

"He resigned his prison service job when these issues came to light and brought unwanted attention."

The solicitor added: "He has shown good insight into his offending and is assessed as suitable for unpaid work."

Sheriff Ward told McGarrigle: "You have pleaded guilty to a series of offences against two different women over a relatively long period of time, and you already have a conviction for assaulting one of them.

"In the circumstances I consider that there is no other appropriate way of dealing with you other than by a period of imprisonment."

McGarrigle was sentenced to a total of 217 days behind bars.

Sheriff Ward also imposed a three-year non-harassment order preventing him from approaching or contacting, or attempting to do so in any way, one of the two victims who requested he be kept away from her.