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Last Updated: 9:59AM GMT 13 Jan 2009
A newly-wed pensioner attacked his wife with a claw hammer after a row about their garden, a court has heard.
Clifford Wells, 76, a former Royal Marine, became angry when his 72-year-old spouse Patricia repeatedly accused him of not doing as much as she had to clear the undergrowth outside their new bungalow.
The 76-year-old snapped and struck his Mrs Wells several times over the head with the hammer.
She survived the attack at the couple’s home in Penistone, south Yorkshire, but still needs a daily carer, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Wells, who admitted attempting to murder his wife on July 24 last year, has been jailed for nine years.
Judge Alan Goldsack told him: “This was a conscious and deliberate attempt to kill a lady whom you had come to regret marrying.
“In those few moments you intended to kill your wife. It is little short of a miracle that she did not die.”
The couple met in 2007 through an internet dating agency and married on May 30 last year.
They returned after a month and threw themselves into clearing the garden of their new home.
But Mrs Wells became annoyed at her new husband not pulling his weight in the garden when she was out in the morning hard at work.
Wells later attacked Patricia in their home and she was found slumped over a computer mumbling incoherently. There was blood on the ceiling and in the corner of the room.
Prosecutor Peter Kelson QC said Wells told the police that he wanted his wife to die.
“He struck her because he was fed up of her going on about the garden all the time when he was doing his best,” he said.
Wells, who has suffered from bouts of depression, said they had both got out of bed just after 4am and had a cup of tea. He decided to end it all and took an overdose of antidepressants.
Neither of the pair could remember much about the incident and it is not known whether Wells took the tablets before or after attacking his wife.
The tablets apparently had little effect and Wells, who was of previous good character, then tried to save his wife and rang for an ambulance and the police.
Mrs Wells, who now lives alone with carers, is unable to use her left side, has a poor short-term memory and is easily confused.
She does not remember anything that happened after the couple returned from honeymoon.
Paul Watson QC, for Wells, said the former Royal Marine had served in Korea and Malaysia, then worked in a foundry and became a nurse until he retired in 1992.
The death of his 26-year-old son in 1980 in a road accident had a profound effect on him and his second wife with whom he lived for 31 years had died in 2006.
“He then met Patricia and it was something of a whirlwind relationship,” said Mr Watson.
Depression was a problem for which he took medication and there were difficulties in the relationship before his “inexplicable” behaviour on the day he attacked his wife.
Judge Goldsack told Wells, who was smartly dressed in suit and tie in the dock: “Not many men older than you stand where you are now standing.” He said it was a tragedy for both families.
Although Wells had retired early through depression he was still active and physically fit and he and his wife both spent long hours tending the large garden.
Judge Goldsack told Wells: “There is some evidence she worked longer hours than you and perhaps felt you were not pulling your weight.” Wells claimed she had been nagging over it and there were arguments. Said the judge: “Such things happen in most marriages from time to time but it does not excuse what you subsequently did.” The defendant told police his wife had another go at him at which point he picked up the hammer