Wife, 78, tasered twice after she stabbed her Alzheimer's suffering husband 17 times when she cracked under the pressure of caring for him
- Police taser elderly Florence Thomson twice when she refused to drop the knife after stabbing her husband 17 times
- She escapes prison sentence but is handed a two-year community order
- Court told couple had been married 40 years and were devoted to each other
- Husband manages to survive attack and wants to see his wife again
By Paul Bentley
PUBLISHED: 10:44 EST, 21 May 2012 | UPDATED: 13:02 EST, 21 May 2012
Cracked under pressure: Florence Thomson, arriving at Lincoln Crown Court
The elderly wife of a man with Alzheimer’s disease was tasered twice by police after stabbing him 17 times when she cracked under the pressure of caring for him, a court heard today.
Grandmother Florence Thomson, 78, had just moved home with her husband Keith, 79, when she 'flipped' and repeatedly plunged a carving knife into his chest. He survived the attack.
Officers who were called to the scene by her daughter took the decision to taser her twice because she would not let go of the knife.
Mrs Thomson, who arrived at court walking with a zimmer frame, escaped a prison sentence for the attack after a court heard that years of taking care of her husband had taken their toll on her mental health.
She was handed a two-year community order by the judge, who said he showed mercy because it was an ‘extremely sad’ case and that ‘caring for anyone with dementia should not be underestimated’.
Mrs Thomson confessed immediately after the attack in November last year, insisting she was ‘not an evil person’ and that she loved her husband.
Mr Thomson, who used to work for electronics firm Ferranti in his home town Edinburgh, managed to survive despite horrific injuries and is now being looked after at a care home. He is now said to be keen to see his wife, who is only allowed to visit him under supervision.
Lincoln Crown Court heard how Mrs Thomson cracked after the couple moved to a newly built bungalow in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, from another property in the same town.
They had been married for almost 40 years but Mr Thomson’s memory had deteriorated severely since 2003, leaving his wife with sole responsibility for his care. She was said to have complained in the weeks before the attack that she ‘lost him’ years before and couldn’t ‘put up with him’ for much longer.
After stabbing her husband Mrs Thomson started to cut herself before her daughter happened to let herself into the new home and stumble upon the horrific scene.
She called the police but Mrs Thomson refused to let go of the knife and when officers arrived they tasered her twice before she relented.
'Unusual and sad case': Lincoln Crown court Judge Michael Heath (pictured) sentenced Florence Thomson to a two-year community order with supervision by probation officers
Mr Thomson was rushed to hospital in nearby King’s Lynn where he was treated in the intensive care unit with 10 stab wounds to his chest as well as injuries to his shoulder, hands and right thigh.
Mrs Thomson, who was also treated for cuts at the hospital, immediately admitted her guilt. She told police at the hospital: ‘I love my husband. I love him to bits. I lost it. I just flipped my lid.
'You always hurt the one you love and I hurt my husband. It was because of the stress. The pressure of moving house got to me. Please, please, I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I’m not an evil person.’
At court, Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, explained that almost a decade of her caring for her husband had taken their toll on Mrs Thomson’s mental health.
‘The dementia became a source of extreme frustration to her,’ he said.
‘Florence Thomson had for some time been finding things very difficult in coping with her husband’s dementia and caring for him. The cumulative effect appears to have caused this elderly lady to snap and to harm both herself and her husband.’
Mr Aspden said that in the weeks before the stabbing Florence was heard to remark: ‘I lost him a long time ago. I don’t know how much longer I can put up with him.’
The prosecutor described how on the day of the attack Mrs Thomson’s daughter Sheena Pentney, who she had with her first husband, called in to check everything was ok with her mother and stepfather.
He said: ‘The daughter used a key to unlock the front door. Her mother walked out of the kitchen holding a carving knife. She looked totally deranged. She had a wild look in her eyes and was covered in blood.
‘Sheena went into the front bedroom where she found her stepfather lying on the floor.
He was also covered in blood.’ The daughter raised the alarm and armed police were sent to the scene.
‘Mrs Thomson appeared at the doorway still holding the knife,’ Mr Aspden added. ‘She moved towards them with the knife in her hand ignoring requests to put it down.
The first officer who entered the property felt so threatened that he activated a taser.
She ignored the request to drop the knife and the taser was activated a second time.
She was then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.’ Mr Aspden said that two psychiatrists who examined Mrs Thomson agreed she was ill at the time she carried out the attack.
She pleaded guilty to wounding her husband with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Judge Michael Heath sentenced Mrs Thomson to a two-year community order with supervision by probation officers, while also imposing an indefinite restraining order which means she can only visit her husband under supervision.
Mrs Thomson had previously spent five months in custody on remand at Peterborough Women’s Prison. Passing sentence, Judge Heath said: ‘This is a highly unusual and extremely sad case.
'They had been happily married for 40 years and were devoted to each other.
‘In 2003 Mr Thomson began to experience signs of memory loss. He eventually contracted dementia and it got progressively worse. She was his sole carer. C
'Caring for anyone with dementia should not be underestimated. She found herself under a great strain and contracted a depressive illness.
'Plainly at the time of this incident the balance of her mind was disturbed against a background of great domestic upheaval.
‘There are very exceptional cases when justice should be tempered with mercy.
'This is one of them. In almost every case of wounding with intent any defendant who either pleads or is found guilty can expect to receive a sentence measuring in years.
'For reasons I hope are obvious I am satisfied it would be contrary to the interests of justice to follow the guidelines in this case.’
Mrs Thomson chose to make no comment after the hearing. Edna Leonard, defending, said: ‘Mrs Thomson is anxious to see her husband.
'The information is that Keith Thomson would like to see her as well.'
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