A RETIRED firefighter responsible for inflicting severe facial injuries on his girlfriend during a row about her smoking has been jailed.

Stewart Menzies launched an assault on his then-partner after she stood outside and her cigarette smoke drifted back into his Gullane home.

Menzies, 55, of Muirfield Terrace, punched the woman’s face, leaving her with a fractured cheekbone, fractured eye socket and nerve damage; she later had surgery and a metal plate fitted to her face to help repair the damage.

Sheriff Donald Corke told Menzies – who served as a firefighter for 30 years – that the attack had had a “devastating impact” on his victim and he jailed him for 16 months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

The court had been told the pair had been drinking at the village’s Golf Inn in the afternoon of May 14 last year and had returned to the father-of-two’s home for the evening.

Fiscal depute Ann McNeill said: “The accused sat down to watch golf on TV and this upset the woman, who said she’d had enough and wanted to go home.

“She went outside to smoke a cigarette but the accused complained to her as the smoke was drifting in and he slammed the door. His partner then began to bang on the window, causing the accused to go to the door.

“They then began arguing over ‘a silly thing’ and they began pushing each other. She pushed him and he pushed her. Suddenly, he punched her on the right cheek and she fell to the ground.”

Ms McNeill said the woman continued to suffer “numbness to the right side of her face”.

Lawyer George Henry told the court his client had a “long history of public service” and was of “impeccable character”. Menzies was in a position to pay “a significant compensation order” which would serve as “an acknowledgement for the injuries she received”.

Menzies, 55, had “no recollection” of punching the woman but accepted that he did commit the offence.

In sentencing, Sheriff Corke said: “You appear as a first offender, having pleaded guilty to assaulting your former partner by punching her to the face.

"That punch led to severe injury and permanent impairment and you fractured her eye socket, leading to the insertion of plates and caused permanent nerve damage.

"The courts simply cannot tolerate this kind of violence and it seems to have followed on from some petty argument. The effect on this individual has been devastating.

"There is no method of dealing with you other than custody.”

Menzies served in the fire service for 30 years before retiring recently; he spent five years of his career as a community safety officer delivering fire safety talks to school children.

He admitted assaulting his former girlfriend by punching her to the face, whereby she fell to the ground to her severe injury and permanent disfigurement.