September 15, 2020 3.59 pm This story is over 44 months old

Abused woman spared jail for stabbing husband

She was suffering with PTSD from years of abuse

A Lincolnshire woman who stabbed her estranged husband with a kitchen knife was spared an immediate jail sentence after a judge accepted she was a victim of domestic abuse and significant provocation.

Susan Wheeler, 63, was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by abuse during her 30 year marriage when she stabbed her husband, Hugh, once in the chest.

Mrs Wheeler, of Thurlby near Bourne, rang 999 after carrying out the stabbing at the couple’s former matrimonial home in Thurlby, near Bourne, and remained at the scene until police and paramedics arrived.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Mr Wheeler was taken to Peterborough City Hospital and underwent surgery to drain blood from his chest cavity, but declined to help the prosecution against his wife.

The court was told Mrs Wheeler appeared “agitated” when emergency services arrived at the property on May 29, last year, and never denied responsibility for the attack.

Mrs Wheeler had faced a charge of attempted murder but pleaded guilty to an offence of wounding her husband with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm following a court hearing on Monday. A not guilty verdict was entered on the attempted murder charge.

Jeremy Jaines, prosecuting, said the couple had attempted a reconciliation in their long marriage after Mrs Wheeler believed her husband had formed a relationship with another woman but by May 29 that had failed and she had contacted a solicitor.

The court heard Mrs Wheeler sought “solace in drink” and was suffering from detiorating mental health when she sent a text message to her daughter on the evening of the offence.

It read: “Get the police because I’m going over there to kill him. Say goodbye to your mother.”

Mr Jaines said Mrs Wheeler entered the property in Obthorpe Lane, Thurlby, shortly after 8pm and selected a knife from the kitchen.

She then proceeded to the living room where she found her husband watching TV on the sofa and stabbed him once in the chest.

The court heard Mrs Wheeler was previously of positive good character and volunteered in the community as a crafts teacher.

Mark Watson, mitigating, told the court Mrs Wheeler had become a “broken woman” by the day of her offence.

But Mr Watson said she was still supported by her daughter in court and had been able to seek help for her problems since her arrest.

Passing a two year jail sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Simon Hirst stressed there were a “large number of unusual aspects” to the case.

The judge explained: “Ordinarily someone who behaved in the way Mrs Wheeler did would receive a lengthy custodial sentence.”

But the judge said he accepted it was an isolated incident and Mrs Wheeler had suffered a significant degree of provocation due to abuse in her marriage which had caused her to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Judge Hirst told Mrs Wheeler: “You and Hugh Wheeler were involved in a plainly unhappy marriage for in excess of 30 years.

“I have been told about a background of domestic abuse, both physical and verbal behaviour, and controlling behaviour.”

The judge said he also took into account that it was a single blow from Mrs Wheeler, who was of positive good character, and that she had remained at the scene, ringing 999 herself.