A woman stabbed her sister to death after their feud spiralled out of control following months of aggravation between family members.

Marie Metcalfe, who is one of 15 siblings, had been in a long-running conflict with several members of her large family including her elder sister Laura.

Laura, 44, had lived in Scotland for almost 20 years before returning to Hartlepool with her three children to live close to her family following a breakdown of her relationship.

The 41-year-old defendant had accused Laura and two other sisters of assaulting her in July last year but the case was finally dropped at the beginning of this year.

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Jamie Hill KC, prosecuting, said the feud came to a violent conclusion on Good Friday, April 7, this year when Laura’s friend Kelly Nicholson turned up at Marie Metcalfe’s home on the same street after spending the day drinking.

The Northern Echo: Marie MetcalfeMarie Metcalfe (Image: Cleveland Police)

A scuffle in the street involving Laura Metcalfe and Ms Nicholson ended when the defendant ran towards her sister and plunged a knife into her chest – piercing her heart - as the feud ended in the fatal stabbing.

Mr Hill said the victim managed to stumble home and get her son to call for an ambulance but she suffered a cardiac arrest while he was on the phone. The 44-year-old died several days later in hospital.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant had a history of violent behaviour including smashing a glass in a woman's face in a pub and hitting a man over the head with a hammer during an argument in the street.

Metcalfe, of Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to murder on the day her trial was due to start.

The Northern Echo: Brougham Street, Hartlepool, were the fatal stabbing took place.Brougham Street, Hartlepool, were the fatal stabbing took place. (Image: North News)

Nicholas Lumley KC, mitigating, said his client had not gone out looking for trouble but it  flared up when she saw her sister scuffling with Ms Nicholson.

He said the stabbing was not 'premeditated' and had been a spur-of-the-moment act.

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Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Metcalfe to life imprisonment and told her she would serve at least 18 years in custody before being eligible for parole.

He said: "It is not entirely clear for how long you were in possession of the knife, it was not a small knife and you must have had it before you went to the shop.

"You had carried it through local streets and into the shop before the confrontation with Laura, you did carry it to the scene of this murder.

"You have a history of violence using weapons, including striking a woman to the head with a glass and striking a man to a hammer to the head.

"Your swift resort to the knife as a weapon convinces me that you did have the knife available as a weapon and there was never any doubt it was used to inflict the fatal wound to your sister."

  • Kelly Nicholson, 44, of Shinwell, Terrace, Wheatley Hill, County Durham, was facing a charge of assisting an offender but it was dropped by the prosecution after she accepted a caution from the police.