A WOMAN who stabbed her boyfriend in the back during a drunken row - as children slept on a sofa just feet away - was today jailed for ten months.

Claire Duncan’s barrister argued that she should not be locked up because she was suffering from untreated post-natal at the time of the attack last summer.

But Judge Sean Morris told defence lawyer Rod Hunt: “It seems to me, the reason behind this is she was completely out of her head on alcohol.”

Duncan had downed up to ten cans of lager before the knife attack at the couple's home in Lincoln Crescent in Billingham, near Stockton, on July 22.

Duncan's partner was filling a water can in the kitchen when he felt what he described as "a thud" in his back, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said both had been drinking, and the 33-year-old mum was becoming more and more argumentative.

After being stabbed, the victim went to the home of a neighbour, and an ambulance was called before he had three stitches put in the wound.

The man told police he had been knifed by Duncan, but refused to give more details and said he did not want her to be charged.

In a statement, he said he felt hurt knowing she would attack him, and talked of the anguish of not seeing his children after having to move away.

But he also wrote to the judge asking him not to lock up Duncan because he had forgiven her and they were back together.

Mr Hunt said: “She is a very sad, and at the time, ill individual, someone who, regrettably didn't have the intelligence to understand the extent to which she was ill.

"Your Honour sees the combination of post-natal depression coupled with alcohol and coupled with heroin.

"The consequences to her have been losing her children. They are now en-route to being adopted. She has been back with her partner since about September, and she has sought help herself, not having to be told to do it.

"She is very frightened. When one sorts out the mad, the sad and the bad, as we do daily in these crown courts, I ask Your Honour to bear in mind that this lady was suffering at the time and was not the master of her own thought process.”

Today, when faced with the prospect of Duncan going to prison, Mr Hunt told the judge: “What concerns me about this case, in particular, is we are dealing with a someone who is obviously of very low intelligence, and she was clearly suffering from a degree of post-natal depression.

“The offence of infanticide was put on the statute to prevent women being found guilty of murder.

“One only has to do a simple Google search to see that there are many cases of women who kill who don’t go to prison.

“She is ashamed of what she has done and she is understanding of what she has done. She has lost her three children, and the punishment on her is already psychologically severe, and in my submission it doesn’t need a loss of liberty today to bring that lesson home. Your Honour could hold back this time and put her to the test with a suspended sentence.”

Judge Morris told Duncan he could not avoid locking her up, but was going to reduce her sentence because of her illness and her guilty plea to unlawful wounding.

He said: “The public would be outraged, and rightly so, if somebody, when they are drunk, plunges a knife into a man’s back.

“I accept that you may have been or were suffering from a degree of post-natal depression, but nobody says the severity of that in any way excuses what you did. I am quite satisfied the primary reason you acted in the way you did was yet again you were completely drunk.

“You have two previous convictions for assault, one some time ago which I understand was on your brother in March 2012, and more recently in 2016 when you headbutted an unknown female.

“You stabbed your partner in the back and when he sought help, you went into the street and said ‘Is he not dead yet’ or words to that effect.

“I have had to think long and hard, but you cannot expect to go around stabbing people in the back and walk out of a court of law.

“I am afraid even your partner’s own views on what should happen to you cannot ultimately have an effect on what I decide, but they will help me reduce the sentence.”