Devoted Chester-le-Street wife given hospital order after attempting to strangle disabled husband

The Northern Echo: Christine Houston Christine Houston

A DEVOTED wife tried to strangle her disabled husband with a cravat weeks after warning police she wanted to kill him, a court heard today (Thursday, April 3).

Christine Houston, 66, who was only thwarted in her attempt to kill Stewart Houston by the arrival of a Sainsburys delivery van at their Chester-le-Street home, was today made the subject of an indefinite hospital order.

Her husband, who did not support her prosecution for attempted murder, shared an embrace with her before she was led off to a secure mental health unit.

Mr Houston, who has muscular dystrophy and is a wheelchair user, praised the sacrifices and love she had shown him during their 28-year marriage.

Jamie Hill, QC, prosecuting at Newcastle Crown Court, said Mrs Houston had suffered mental health problems since her 20s and had first expressed concerns she might harm her husband as early as 1998 – and had continued to do so over the years.

The retired pharmacist was referred to a mental health crisis team at the beginning of May 2012 after she contacted police, saying she wanted to suffocate her husband.

But, after initial out-patient treatment, she discharged herself. Next day she tried to strangle him with a length of oxygen tube at their home in Fenton Close, Waldridge.

She only stopped when he pleaded with her saying he did not want to die, Mr Hill said.

The next day - on May 26, 2012 - Mr Houston called police to say his wife had tried to strangle him with a cravat.

When officers arrived she said: “I tried to kill him. I wanted him dead.”

Tony Davis defending, said Mrs Houston had been an “extremely caring person” and “thankfully this was a very brief moment in time”.

Houston, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder, suffered from bipolar disorder resulting in depressive episodes, pyschotic episodes and obsessive thoughts, the court was told.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Houston said: “It is very sad.

“It has always been my belief that Christine’s true nature and character is as gentle as a lamb.

“She is a very loving and caring person and has shown a great deal of sacrifice and love in the 28 years we have been married.”

He added, he felt the health trust treating his wife had failed in its duty of care by twice discharging her in the months preceding the incident when she was “still ill”.

He said: “There were a number of ocassions where she said she was wanting to harm me, but they have still discharged her back into the home environment as a carer.”

A spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We appreciate how distressing this must be and we are sorry that Mr Houston has concerns about his wife’s care. We would encourage him to get in touch with us so we can look into his concerns.”

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