An alcoholic who beat his wife in an “appalling” act of domestic violence walked free from court after she wrote a powerful plea for mercy to the judge.

Well-built Christopher Ryan, 6ft tall and 15st, punched his businesswoman wife of 15 years, threatened her with a knife, threw her downstairs and squeezed her throat in the “manic” attack, part of which took place in front of their 12-year-old daughter, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.

Judge Jonathan Rose said it was one of the worst cases of actual bodily harm in domestic violence he had come across, and it was “merciful and miraculous” that Mrs Ryan was not seriously injured.

The judge told Ryan he deserved a two-year prison sentence, but he was going to suspend it because of the defendant’s wife, who had written him an “exceptionally powerful” letter, and his daughter, who “needs her daddy”.

Mrs Ryan, who wept in the public gallery during the hearing, thanked the judge for his sentence and said: “I know you are doing this to help.”

Ryan, 39, of St James Place, Baildon, had pleaded guilty to causing his wife, Carolyn, actual bodily harm.

Prosecutor Richard Walters told the court Mrs Ryan, a self-employed therapist, described their relationship as generally good. They had ups and downs but she loved her husband, who did “absolutely everything” for their daughter.

Mr Walters said Mrs Ryan felt he was frustrated that she was bringing in all the money and his self-esteem might be affected. He dealt with his frustrations by drinking heavily.

The prosecutor said that Ryan pushed his wife round the bedroom after she refused him money to go out drinking.

He followed her into the kitchen, began slapping her, then armed himself with a carving knife and held it in front of her. His eyes were glazed and she was terrified. Their daughter came downstairs and witnessed what was happening.

Mr Walters said Ryan threw the knife down with such force it broke.

Their daughter went upstairs and called the police. Meanwhile Ryan repeatedly punched his wife in the head and face, grabbed her round the throat with both hands and was described as “manic”.

He also destroyed his wife’s £3,000 laser tattoo removal machine. Mrs Ryan fled, barefoot and in her pyjamas, on to the street and flagged down a passing motorist.

She said she wanted Ryan to get help but did not want him to be prosecuted.

Judge Rose said: “Your behaviour is reprehensible. You are a coward and a bully.”

But the judge told Ryan: “You are needed at home. That little girl needs a daddy. Your wife needs the support that you have previously given.”

He said suspending the two-year sentence for two years was the only way Ryan would get the help to enable the family to stay together. He ordered two years of supervision by probation and a six-month alcohol treatment requirement.