Woman cried ‘isolation is getting to me’ after stabbing boyfriend

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A healthcare assistant stabbed her boyfriend in the hand after cutting up his clothes.

Michelle Ashcroft, 31, attacked Zac Cheetham in a drunken row at her home in the early hours of the morning.

She then rang the police and confessed to stabbing him, before telling officers she had used a kitchen knife.

However, Mr Cheetham said it was actually a pair of scissors and refused to make a police statement.

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Ashcroft was today spared jail, after explaining she was under a lot of pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.

She was allowed to attend her sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court via Skype from her home in St Helens.

Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said police went to her address, in Grafton Street, at around 4.40am on April 2.

He said: "When those officers attended that address the door was ajar and they spoke to Miss Ashcroft.

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"They immediately formed the view she was under the influence of alcohol. She was upset and she was crying.

"When she was asked what had occurred, her reply was 'I'm just depressed, it's just like isolation is getting to everybody, I don't even know, me and my partner got in a fight and I don't know, but he ended up putting his hand out and I stabbed him in the hand, like right through, I didn't mean to'.

"She stated she had used a kitchen knife."

Mr Blasbery added: "When his hand was examined, it appeared a sharp implement had been used to pierce a hole in his hand.

"Mr Cheetham was spoken to by the officers and he didn't wish to press any charges whatsoever.

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"When he was asked where the knife was, his response was 'she stabbed me with scissors'.

"He also appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. He pointed to an inch long cut to his forearm and said 'I don't know how that one happened'."

The victim, who was bleeding from a cut between his thumb and forefinger, told police: "She grabbed the scissors, I've gone to grab her."

Officers went to a bedroom where they found blood on a pillowcase and Mr Cheetham's damaged clothes.

When arrested and interviewed, Ashcroft said they were drinking, then "everything kicked off" but she didn't know why.

She said she felt sick when shown police bodycam footage of his injury and couldn't remember why she cut up his clothes.

Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, who viewed photos of the wounds, said: "They're not terribly serious injuries as luck would have it."

Ashcroft, who admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage, has two previous convictions for three offences.

The court heard they included a battery and a criminal damage, at which point Ashcroft started crying.

Mr Blasbery said the Crown did not challenge the defence assertion that the injuries were caused with scissors.

Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone.

NHS advice says if you are at risk of domestic abuse or violence you can:

  • Talk to your doctor, health visitor or midwife
  • Women can call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge
  • Men can call the Men's Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or ManKind on 01823 334 244
  • In an emergency, call 999

The Survivor's Handbook from Women's Aid is free and gives information on issues such as housing, money, helping children and legal rights.

Men can email info@mensadviceline.org.uk, which can refer you to places that can help, such as health services and voluntary organisations.

For forced marriage and "honour" crimes, contact Karma Nirvana (0800 5999 247) or The Forced Marriage Unit (020 7008 0151).

Galop provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.

Anyone who needs confidential help with their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline on 0808 802 4040.

Frances Willmott, defending, said Ashcroft pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

She said: "In fact, it's a case that seems unlikely to have come to the attention of the police at all, had it not been for Miss Ashcroft's call to the police.

"In my submission that demonstrates her remorse. It's clearly an incident that paints her in a poor light."

Judge Flewitt said: "It's the second conviction for violence isn't it. Eventually somebody is going to send her to prison."

Ms Willmott said Ashcroft was fined for her past offences, meaning she didn't receive any support from the Probation Service.

She said her client faced "difficulties" and the public and Ashcroft would benefit if she was given help.

Judge Flewitt said: "I'm very conscious of her physical and mental health issues. I think it's right in the current climate that I have regard to her occupation and the good work that she does when she is fit to work."

While on bail the NHS worker has been subject to a home curfew, between 9pm and 7am daily.

Ms Willmott said this wasn't recommended as part of any sentence because of Ashcroft's shift pattern, adding that she is unable to work at present because she is self-isolating and in a group subject to "shielding" measures.

Michelle Ashcroft, 31, stabbed her boyfriend when drunk

Judge Flewitt told Ashcroft: "This isn't the first time you have appeared before a court for an offence of violence and given you have devoted your life to caring for other people, it should be a matter of some shame and disappointment to you that for the second time you have caused injury to someone, and this time to someone whom you cared for.

"The reason that you did that was because you had been drinking too much and the reason as I understand it you had been drinking too much was because you were under a great deal of pressure.

"I accept you were under a great deal of pressure because of your mental and physical health problems, that I'm not going to spell out publicly.

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"I recognise that you really do need support. It seems to me this is not a case in which the public interest would be served in sending you to prison.

"If you continue to act violently towards other people, there will come a time when a judge will."

He handed her an 18-month community order, with a six-month alcohol treatment requirement, 20-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, and £100 fine.

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Judge Flewitt said: "I don't believe given the nature of your work that unpaid work is appropriate.

"It seems to me when you're able to return to work, you will be needed at your place of work."