Judge lets couple get back together by releasing wife (84) who repeatedly stabbed husband (71)
Published 02/11/2016 | 22:33
A pensioner who was repeatedly stabbed by his wife walked hand-in-hand with her from court on Wednesday after a judge allowed them to get back together.
Elizabeth Stokes, now 84, has just been released on parole from a four-and-a-half-year jail term imposed in December 2014 for stabbing husband John as many as 13 times, puncturing both lungs. She had wrongly suspected he was having an affair.
Today, she and her 71-year-old husband both returned to Gloucester Crown Court to ask for a restraining order on her to be lifted so they can resume their relationship.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC agreed to end the order and allow the couple, under probation supervision, to see each other and perhaps live together again in due course.
Mr Stokes, of Cheltenham, told the judge he is fully recovered from his injuries and has forgiven his wife.
He said he had been visiting her weekly in prison since September last year
"We have been talking about the problems we had and I think we have made some very great strides," he said. "My wife has total trust in me now.
"I honestly believe her when she says she is very remorseful about what happened. She realises she made a terrible mistake.
"We want to carry on with our marriage and our relationship as soon as possible and I honestly believe it will work and things will be better in the future."
Judge Tabor told him: "There may be no restraining order now but she is on licence from prison and if you wish to live together the probation service will steer you that way providing there on no rocks on your path!"
The judge then asked Mrs Stokes how things were now going with her husband and she replied: "We are getting on very well. Better than we have done for a long, long time."
Judge Tabor asked: "Are you talking about important things? "
"Yes," she replied.
"Do you think you now understand why you did what you did?" asked the judge.
"I do," she said. "I had been suffering from stress for a long, long time. Of course, I am sorry for what I did."
Prosecutor Julian Kesner reminded the court that at the time of Mrs Stokes's trial there was a psychiatric report stating that she had a delusional belief that her husband was having an affair.
Probation officer Diane Oakley, who has worked with Mrs Stokes during her sentence in Eastwood Park prison, told the court that she had undergone two victim awareness courses while there.
There had been three issues in Mrs Stokes's life which led to the attack, she said
"One was that her son had been killed in a car crash about a year before the offence and she was still grieving over that.
"She felt she was not getting the support she expected from her husband," said Mrs Oakley.
"The second issue was that she had been married before and her first husband was an abuser and a philanderer, for want of a better word. There were therefore some trust issues.
"The third problem was a lack of communication. When she challenged him he would either ignore her or laugh at her.
"We have had a meeting with them both when these issues were put on the table. She has also had help from a bereavement counsellor. She feels she perhaps did not work enough through the issues after the death of her son.
"I think even now she finds it difficult to understand why she did what she did to her husband. I think that is something which can still be unpicked.
"She was released from prison last Wednesday and she will be on parole till January 2019."
The judge said "I shall lift the restraining order confident that the probation service will manage the next two years sensitively and carefully in order to ensure that the desire of both these two people that they live back at their home together can be effected provided it is safe to do so."
Mrs Stokes had been accused of the attempted murder of her husband in July 2014 but was cleared of that charge and found guilty of wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The court heard that Mr Stokes, then 69, was on his way back to their bed from the lavatory at about 4.15am when she waylaid him and stabbed him as many as 13 times with scissors.
He staggered to the bathroom bleeding profusely and she followed and told him he had no means of escape and she had hidden his keys and phone so he could not get help.
It was only because he was able to make a neighbour hear by shouting through the bathroom window that the police and ambulance were alerted and he was rushed to hospital.
When he sentenced her for the attack Judge Tabor said she was "fixated" with the idea that her husband had been unfaithful.
The judge said at that time that she believed she would still be a danger to him when she left prison and that was why he made an indefinite restraining order banning her from contacting Mr Stokes in any way.
Mrs Stokes had told the jury that she believed her husband had two affairs during their marriage and was still seeing another woman at the time of the attack.
She claimed she suddenly just "snapped" on the morning of the attack and grabbed the scissors to stab him as he returned to bed from the loo.
But Judge Tabor said it had been a deliberate and planned ambushing and that she had put her sewing scissors in the bedroom in readiness for the attack. There was also a kitchen knife found in the bedroom and there had to be suspicions about why that was there, he added.