A dad who punched and head butted his mother-in-law as she sat on her stairlift cried in court as he was spared a jail sentence.

Michael Kemp, from Kings Langley, was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years at Luton Crown Court on Friday.

He admitted to attacking the woman, who is in her 80s, after she had made a “derogatory comment” about him in the two bed family house they shared in Coniston Road with Kemp’s wife and children.

The 50-year-old, who has been diagnosed as bi-polar, had punched his wife - who also lived in the house - around 15 times in quick succession during a row in the kitchen six days earlier.

Kemp, who now lives in Millbank, Hemel Hempstead, pleaded guilty to assault by beating on October 5 and causing actual bodily harm on October 11.

He had no previous convictions.

Prosecutor Douglas Page said Kemp had launched the attack on his wife after she spat at him.

He said: "He became very angry and began to punch her - 15 times in quick succession. They were very hard punches. As a result she had lumps on her head."

The couple were asleep in a downstairs room at around 5.10am when the mother-in-law came downstairs to tell them one of their children needed a bottle.

The wife nudged her husband and asked him to do it.

The court heard the mother in law made an “abusive remark” towards Kemp who then attacked her.

Mr Page said: "He punched her on the stairlift and head butted her repeatedly. He had to be dragged off by his wife. She had a nasty wound to her head."

When questioned by the police he said the family relationship became strained because of overcrowding.

The court heard he is now living with his sister, but his wife will not mind if he returns home and they are planning to seek marriage guidance and

Kemp will also attend an anger management course after being “ashamed” about what happened.

Judge Michael Kay QC said there was “absolutely no excuse” for the assaults and added he was “taking an exception” by not sending him to prison.

The Judge told him: "You have reached age of 50 without any criminal convictions, you now have two."

"In the normal course of events I would have no hesitation in sending you to custody straight away, but the public may be better served by you being treated in some way."

He said Kemp must attend a Building Better Relationships treatment programme and 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

Kemp, who was crying as he left the dock, said repeatedly: "Thank you your honour."