AN abused woman who turned on her violent partner with a knife after ‘suffering in silence for years’ has been freed from jail on appeal by top judges.
Mother of three Sara James, 43, stabbed her then partner, James Boultbee, three times in the kitchen of her home in the early hours of June 25 last year, before barricading herself in a bedroom.
Police found 31-year-old Mr Boultbee, who had previously breached a restraining order meant to make him steer clear of her, stripped to the waist and bleeding when they attended the house, and arrested James, who was hysterical.
James, of Coronation Street, Swadlincote, was jailed for 18 months at Derby Crown Court on November 13 last year, after pleading guilty to unlawful wounding.
Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Stuart Smith, replaced that term with an eight-month suspended sentence, after hearing that Mr Boultbee had told police that James had ‘suffered in silence for years’.
The court heard that the facts of what happened were ‘incomplete’ as Mr Boultbee refused to make a statement and James herself was so drunk she had no memory of the incident.
However, Mr Boultbee had made ‘unsolicited comments’ to police, claiming he had provoked her by opening a knife and goading her to stab him, adding: “She’s not a violent person, she’s been suffering in silence for years.”
Mr Justice Wyn Williams said the crown court judge had characterised the attack as the most serious kind of wounding in its category.
However, the appeal judge went on to say that had been a mistake as the evidence suggested that the victim’s wounds had not been serious.
He said: “The couple had been in a relationship for 13 years which was characterised by his violence towards her.
“The appropriate term is one of eight months.
“Having regard to the age of this appellant’s children, we conclude that the appropriate sentence should be a suspended sentence order.”