:: Lancashire Evening Post News – Jealous husband jailed for stabbing his wife to death ::
May 19, 2007
A jealous husband who knifed his wife to death days after she confessed to having an affair has been jailed for life.
John Steele, 47, plunged a large kitchen knife into his wife Paula’s neck, chest and back.
Preston Crown Court heard the 40-year-old mother-of-six and part-time cleaner suffered 17 deep stab wounds and a further five “defence cuts” sustained in a desperate attempt to wade off the murderous attack at the home they shared in Mearley Road, Brookfield, on an evening in November last year.
Her husband of 10 years, who pleaded guilty to murder earlier this week on the day his trial was due to begin, has been told he must serve a minimum 15 years in prison before he can apply for parole.
Both prosecution and defence in the case said the couple’s marriage could be described as volatile.
Howard Bentham QC, prosecuting, said the defendant is profoundly deaf and just before the murder had an implant inserted in a bid to improve his hearing.
For 18 months before the killing, Mr Bentham told the court Paula Steele had been having a secret affair with David Burgess.
Mr Burgess was a work colleague of the defendant, a labourer in the building trade employed by a firm in Lostock Hall.
Five days before the murder Paula and her lover were discovered in bed together by a relative, the court heard.
Mrs Steele confessed to the affair and later that same day told her husband.
“He at first appeared to treat it like a joke”, Mr Bentham said.
“However, it became clear during subsequent days that his wife’s revelation had hurt him a lot.”
The defendant then made attempts to confront his love rival at his home, without success.
After John and Paula Steele argued in the early evening, screams were later heard before the defendant was seen to run into the lounge holding a eight-inch kitchen knife, thrashing at his terrified wife.
A neighbour, alerted by screams, told police Steele could be seen through a window making stabbing motions at a prone body.
An ambulance was called and attempts were made to resuscitate Mrs Steele, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
When arrested and interviewed by police Steele told them he remembered his wife confessing about the affair.
He said he still loved her and wanted them both to forget about it.
“He said he could remember nothing about the stabbing”, Mr Bentham told the court.
Steele had previous convictions for assault that was not of a
domestic nature, the court was told.
Richard Marks QC, defending, said: “This is on every view a desperately sad case and represents a terrible tragedy for the deceased, the defendant and all of the family.
“When, a few days before these terrible events, he learned of his wife’s affair his world fell apart.”
He still loved her and wanted her affair to be put in the background.
But what seemed to have sparked the fatal attack were the words uttered by his wife: “I want you out of the house, the police are coming for you”.
She admitted she still had feelings for her lover.
“He saw red – his world had collapsed,” Mr Marks told the court.
He had thought about the affair and, “the torment within him had grown stronger and stronger.”
Sentencing judge Mr Justice McCombe accepted there had been violence on both sides.
But he had carried out what was a frenzied attack.