A man who bombarded his pregnant former partner with hateful messages and held a teenager off the floor by her neck has avoided jail – because of the progress made after he assaulted his mother.

In what the judge described as unusual circumstances, Dillon Berryman from Illogan was given a suspended sentence, despite pleading guilty to sending malicious communications and assault on a teenager by strangulation – offences that would normally result in a prison sentence.

This was because of the steps he had taken after going on to assault his mother in the interim.

Truro Crown Court was told that after the assault, which he had already been sentenced for by magistrates, he had managed to clear himself of cocaine and alcohol, had found accommodation after previously being homeless and was “a changed person.”

The prosecution said 25-year-old Berryman had been in a “toxic relationship” with his former partner.

He could not accept it when she ended it, and began sending “hateful and hurtful” messages, over Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and via text message.

These were sent via his own account, his mother’s and another account by the name of ‘Tom Reynolds’.

Some contained insults, while others were threatening, telling her “You’re f**ked”, “You’re going to get smacked” and “You’re never getting near anyone else, I swear I’ll cut their f**king head off.”

The woman, who was pregnant at the time, reported Berryman to the police, telling them she was genuinely afraid of Berryman and she wished he would just leave her alone.

The court was also told that Berryman had met a girl online, when he was aged 24 and she was 15 – although he continued to maintain that he did not know she was that young and “felt strongly” that the court should know that.

About a week in to their relationship they agreed to meet in Camborne. At the end of the day she was sat on a train to go back home, to another part of Cornwall, when Berryman got onboard the train as it was waiting to leave.

He told her he was going to go home with her and did not want her to leave, grabbing her mobile phone from her pocket and running off the train.

However, the girl remained on the train and went home. Two days later they agreed to meet again, when Berryman returned her phone, damaged, which he admitted he’d caused.

The girl went to use a public toilet and Berryman followed her in, becoming angry “for no apparent reason”, said the prosecutor.

When asked what was wrong, Berryman grabbed the girl by her throat and lifted her off the floor into the wall.

“[The girl] was struggling to breathe and he held her like that for some time,” said the prosecutor.

A few weeks later Berryman was contacted by the girl’s father, who had heard what happened and “asked him what on earth he had been doing.” The defendant replied that he had acted in this way because the girl had told him she was pregnant – something the teenager denied ever saying.

Berryman was arrested and accepted he had spoken with the girl on social media, but denied for a long time that they ever met in person.

The prosecutor said Berryman had previous convictions including for attempted robbery, affray and ABH, including an assault on his own mother last year.

Berryman’s barrister said the defendant recognised the seriousness of the offences and was remorseful.

“It was the poor circumstances of his life that led him to behaving in this way,” said the defence counsel, who added that Berryman had grabbed the phone from the girl because he had begun to suspect she was younger than he thought.

Cocaine and alcohol had exacerbated his existing conditions, including ADH, impulsive behaviour disorder, anxiety, depression and Type 1 diabetes.

While his mother supported him, she had asked him to leave the house after he assaulted her, and he had been “effectively homeless,” living in tents.

However, ten months on he was described as a “changed person” and had used the community penalties issued after the assault on his mother to get sober, find accommodation and he was looking to complete his GCSEs.

Judge Simon Carr told Berryman: “It’s as if you have grown up overnight and realised you cannot be dependent on alcohol and drugs.”

He described the reports back from those working with Berryman as “nothing but positive”, saying they had seen “an extraordinary change” in his behaviour.

Judge Carr sentenced Berryman to six months in prison for the malicious communications and 18 months for the strangulation, with both suspended for two years.

He ordered that Berryman wear an electronic tag for three months, with a curfew between 7pm and 7am each day.

A restraining order was issued, preventing him from contacting his former partner or the girl for five years.