"Devoted wife" said to be suffering from 'carer fatigue' admits trying to kill disabled husband at their Chester-leStreet home

Christine Houston

Stewart Houston

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Derwentside & Tyneside)

A "DEVOTED wife" who tried to strangle her disabled husband after 27 years of caring for him has pleaded guilty to his attempted murder.

Christine Houston, 65 - who was said to be suffering from 'carer fatigue' - tried to choke Stewart Houston at the family home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, using his own cravat.

It is understood the attack was thwarted only by the arrival of a supermarket delivery driver with a shopping order.

The attack was so severe Mr Houston, who is ten years his wife’s junior, suffered blood spots on his eyes.

He tried to summon the help of mental health services as his wife. a former pharmacist, had previously been diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder.

But, unable to get help following the incident on May 26, 2012, he called police to their home in Fenton Close, Waldridge, and she was arrested and subsequently charged.

Houston’s barrister, Tony Davis told The Northern Echo, that she had been suffering from ‘carer fatigue’.

“She was a very a devoted and caring wife who has suffered from a significant depressive illness herself," he said.

“It was the layering effect of her constant care of him on top of her underlying condition. Something has snapped.”

The Northern Echo understands a day earlier Houston had tied the tube from her husband’s oxygen equipment around his neck, but had not tightened it.

Houston is currently living in Chester-le-Street under the care of mental health professionals.

She has been assessed by psychiatrists who agreed she is fit to face legal proceedings, despite the fact the prosecution is not supported by her husband.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 11) at Newcastle Crown Court she entered a guilty plea to a single charge of attempted murder.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Davis added: “Undoubtedly, this was an episode brought about by the constant pressure of caring for her husband for the 27 years that she has.

“That is not to say that they as a family have not received support, because they have, but that was limited.

“My observation of them as a couple is that they are deeply in love with another.

“It is unlikely that that bond will ever be broken.

“But clearly there has to be element of protection for Mr Houston. I anticipate that is why the Crown has adopted this very robust approach.”

It is thought Mr Houston, who has three degrees, including a Master’s in social sciences, has suffered from muscular dystrophy for decades.

He has written letters in support of his wife, which are likely to be taken into account when judgement is passed on her.

Mr Davis said: “It has always been the case that Mr Houston did not support the prosecution. No doubt he will have his views properly ventilated when she is sentenced.”

The Houstons have been married for 27 years after meeting through the Christian Friendship Fellowship in the early 1980s.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “In line with the code for crown prosecutors this case was stringently reviewed by a CPS lawyer, who found that it satisfied both the evidential and public interest tests required to bring a prosecution.

“Given that the court proceedings are still active, it would be wholly inappropriate to provide any further comment until the sentencing in this case has concluded.”

Judge James Goss, Recorder of Newcastle, has adjourned proceedings until April 1 when Houston will be sentenced and granted her conditional bail until then.

He said: “Failure to attend court is an offence punishable by jail.

“Although I am granting you bail I am not giving any indication what the sentence might be.”

Comments (2)

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12:09pm Wed 12 Mar 14

JULIET999 says...

I knew Chris & Stewart back in the Eighties and they were a very private couple. Decent and kind people. They're obviously still in as much love as they always were. Stewart has Atrophy rather than Dystrophy. Hope it all ends well. Sometimes things happen for a reason and this was their cry for help. Not really a case of 'Hanging her out to dry' but spending some time with the couple and helping to support the unit, after all they only have each other.
I knew Chris & Stewart back in the Eighties and they were a very private couple. Decent and kind people. They're obviously still in as much love as they always were. Stewart has Atrophy rather than Dystrophy. Hope it all ends well. Sometimes things happen for a reason and this was their cry for help. Not really a case of 'Hanging her out to dry' but spending some time with the couple and helping to support the unit, after all they only have each other. JULIET999
  • Score: 15

3:42pm Thu 13 Mar 14

john tate says...

My wife and I have known Chris and Stewart for almost 30 years,and she is the most loving and dedicated person we have ever known.
Chris was physically and emotionally worn out by constantly caring for a very disabled husband who had a high level of dependence on her.
Chris is an exceptional wife who is also a radiant example of Christian self sacrifice.
My wife and I have known Chris and Stewart for almost 30 years,and she is the most loving and dedicated person we have ever known. Chris was physically and emotionally worn out by constantly caring for a very disabled husband who had a high level of dependence on her. Chris is an exceptional wife who is also a radiant example of Christian self sacrifice. john tate
  • Score: 4

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