Mum Jailed For Stabbing Ex-Husband

A mother who stabbed her former husband as he slept after a long-running battle over custody of their two children was sentenced to 10 years today.

Susan Shadwell, 41, a childcare worker, was found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court in July of wounding with intent but was cleared of attempted murder.

Mr Justice Clarke, sentencing her at the Royal Courts of Justice today, said she would spend half the time in custody and half in the community.

Shadwell, from Van Dyck Close in Basingstoke, broke into the home of her former husband, David, 44, in nearby Old Basing, carrying kitchen knives and dressed in dark clothing.

She stabbed him in the neck while the terrified children looked on.

Shadwell had admitted aggravated burglary and was sentenced to four years to run concurrently.

Ian Lawrie, representing her in court today, said the "appalling stress'' of looking after her daughter when she had leukaemia had taken its toll on an "exemplary mother''.

"Her attachment to her children is at the very heart of what it was that prompted her to behave as she did on that fateful day.''

The judge said he had read testimonials from friends and relatives describing her "exemplary character''.

"These people would not believe what you did that night,'' he said.

He said she had been in a long battle with her ex-husband over contact with the children and she had obstructed him and had failed to comply with court orders allowing him access.

She had been warned by the family court that if she did not allow David contact, a residence order for the children would not go in her favour.

"You were brooding in your home over an injustice as you saw it and on a Saturday evening you disguised yourself in dark clothing and took two sharp knives from your kitchen.''

The judge said she had hid in the house and when David returned to bed, had stabbed him deeply through the neck.

"This is a sad and extreme example of battles between estranged parents fighting over their children.''