Suspended sentence for woman who knifed ex in back as he slept

Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.

A mum in pink pyjamas who walked into her ex-partner’s Burnley home, calmly went upstairs and knifed him in the back as he lay face down sleeping off a hangover, was spared jail.

Emily Jane Whittaker (35) was heard by a friend of “completely defenceless” Francis Fleming to say to the victim: “I told you how serious I was being” before leaving Mr Fleming injured and bleeding profusely, a court heard.

Burnley Crown Court was told Whittaker, who has a drink problem and is on medication for anxiety and depression, went to her nearby home and got in the bath. She was arrested a short time later after police arrived at her address. The pyjamas were on the bathroom floor and a knife was recovered from a grate outside.

The court heard the defendant, who was said at an earlier hearing to have suffered domestic violence at the hands of Mr Fleming in the past, has a young child by him.

Whittaker had earlier admitting wounding Mr Fleming, on November 30th last year. She had no previous convictions.

The defendant was given two years in prison, suspended for two years, with a 60-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a six-month alcohol treatment programme. She was ordered to pay £300 costs and received a five-year restraining order, banning her from contacting Mr Fleming and from going within 350m of where he is living.

Prosecutor Stephen Parker told the court Mr Fleming, who lived with his mother at Coal Clough Lane, and the defendant had had a relationship, but had been separated for about a year.

Clare Ashcroft (defending) said fortunately Mr Fleming’s injury was not serious. She said Whittaker, who ordinarily would expect to go to jail, plainly had some difficulties with her mental health.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Leeming QC, who had read a psychiatric report, said the victim had been “particularly vulnerable.” He said Whittaker’s anxiety and depression were worsened by traumatic life events and heavy drinking.

“When you are unwell, you do suffer worrying manifestations of mental disturbance, such as hearing voices.”