Bartlett was detained under the Mental Health Act — (BBC News)

SSRI Ed note: Prison governor on antidepressants, divorcing his wife, drinks and stabs her almost to death until daughters intervene. Mental illness blamed.

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BBC News

Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK

A Shropshire prison governor who almost stabbed his wife to death has been given an indefinite hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

Andrew Bartlett, 48, a junior governor at Dana prison, had admitted trying to kill his wife, whom he was in the process of divorcing after 10 years.

Bartlett attacked his wife in April 2005 at their home in Codsall, Staffs.

He stopped the attack as Mrs Bartlett’s 14 year-old daughter and a friend tried to take a kitchen knife from him.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that Bartlett and his wife Debbie were still living together at the time of the attack.

Their children, then aged seven and eight, and Mrs Bartlett’s 14-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, who had a friend over, were all at the house.

Anti-depressant drugs

Bartlett had been drinking having already taken anti-depressant drugs when Mrs Bartlett returned from her own job as a prison governor.

The court was told that Bartlett later confessed to a former girlfriend that he “just lost it” when his wife admitted to an affair, at which point he tried to strangle his wife and stab her with a kitchen knife.

Mrs Bartlett’s eldest daughter and her friend tried to take the knife from Bartlett, who wandered off after stabbing her up to nine times.

The girls called 999 and flagged down a passing motorist to ask for help.

‘Presence of mind’

The prosecution paid tribute to their “remarkable presence of mind for two so young”.

Judge Frank Chapman told him: “You were jealous and had become angry and had taken quite a lot of drink.

“Despite your own infidelities, you found it impossible to accept that your wife could do the same and I think these events were the principal trigger for you behaving as you did.”

This was a horrific, vicious assault

De Ch Insp Laurie Whitby-Smith

The judge said the prison governor would have faced a sentence of nine or ten years but for his mental health problems.

Det Ch Insp Laurie Whitby-Smith, of Staffordshire police, said: “This was a horrific, vicious assault. Bartlett picked up a knife from his kitchen with the clear intention of killing his wife.

“We hope (the) proceedings help Mrs Bartlett and her family come to terms with this devastating crime.”