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The Daily Mail
by James Rush
A husband strangled his wife before stabbing himself with a kitchen knife to make it appear as if she had killed herself after attacking him, a court heard.
Stephen Barnsdale-Quean, 43, allegedly used a rolling pin to tighten a noose around his wife Chantelle’s neck as he strangled her in bed.
A jury was told how he allegedly twisted the rolling pin six times to tighten a black picture chain around his wife’s neck.
He had earlier made the ligature, using the chain and an elasticated hair bobble, which he slipped over her neck before using the rolling pin to tighten it.
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard how Barnsdale-Quean claimed his 35-year-old wife, who was suffering from depression, ‘frenziedly’ attacked him with a kitchen knife which was still stuck in his abdomen when paramedics arrived.
The father-of-two later told police she had used the ligature to kill herself at the flat they shared in Darfield, near Barnsley, on March 4 this year.
But the prosecution say scientific evidence proves she could not have strangled herself in such a way and her husband cut himself superficially then dripped his own blood over his wife’s body as she lay dead on the bed.
The couple, who both worked for the Department of Work and Pensions, had been married for ten years but had run into financial trouble and their previous home was repossessed.
Michael Slater, prosecuting, said after strangling his wife, Barnsdale-Quean cut his face, neck, arms, chest and leg ‘to give the false impression that he had been attacked by the deceased who had then gone on to take her own life using that ligature arrangement’.
The defendant was arrested in an ambulance on the way to hospital. When interviewed two days later he said she had attacked him with a knife for no apparent reason and suggested she had then killed herself.
But Mr Slater said although the couple had serious cash problems and were both in ill-health, Mrs Barnsdale-Quean had never spoken of suicide to her family or friends in the previous months.
She had been off work ill but returned in January and in five police interviews after her death her husband never mentioned that she had discussed taking her own life.
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard how Barnsdale-Quean claimed his 35-year-old wife ‘frenziedly’ attacked him with a kitchen knife
A paramedic found Barnsdale-Quean gasping for breath face down in the hallway with a small kitchen knife sticking out of his abdomen after he called the emergency services.
The medic found his wife lying dead on the bed with her head on the pillow she used for reading. The ligature with the rolling pin was attached to the left side of her neck.
The defendant told him: ‘She went berserk.’
As he was being taken to hospital the knife which had only slightly penetrated his stomach fell out.
When doctors at Barnsley District Hospital asked him how he got his cuts and scratches he replied: ‘I was defending myself.’
No defensive wounds were found on his hands and he did not require surgery.
Mr Slater said: ‘He never was attacked by Chantelle or anyone else, he did it himself.’
In police interviews the defendant claimed his wife attacked him with a knife. ‘She was just swinging and swinging. I was trying to get away,’ he said.
He remembered the knife sticking into his belly before collpasing in the hallway. ‘There was blood everywhere and I thought I was going to die,’ he said.
Barnsdale-Quean said the couple had been living in the south of England but moved back to Barnsley in 2002 and later got married.
She had suffered two miscarriages and would fall into dark, depressive moods for which she took anti-depressants. She had a temper and suffered from tiredness and crippling back and stomach pains.
He said she stayed in bed while he got up early, ironed the clothes, made her packed lunch and got breakfast for their two daughters before taking them to school. He also did the cooking and cleaning.
On the morning of her death he had given her a half-hour massage and they had made love before he began dozing on the sofa. He claims he woke up to find his wife scratching and clawing at his neck.
‘It was like a sawing motion, bizarre, strange,’ he said. ‘I was in shock, horror and disbelief.’ The attack culminated in the knife sticking in his abdomen.
The court also heard his wife, who on the day had taken a cocktail of drugs mainly for depression, had been in contact with a former partner on Facebook and they had exchanged texts.
Mr Slater said there were numerous drips of his blood on the victim which had all been deposited when she was motionless.
‘She was either unconscious or dead on the bed already when someone came and dripped blood – her husband,’ he said. ‘This gives the lie to him saying he didn’t know what happened.’
Earlier Barnsdale-Quean told police they were happily married. ‘I loved her, she loved me,’ he said