Lawyer with 'Spock complex' cleared of murdering his wife

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A lawyer convicted of manslaughter after stabbing his wife to death will only have to serve another 19 months in jail because he is seriously ill.

Christopher Lumsden, 52, admitted repeatedly stabbing his wife, Alison Lumsden, 53, at their £2m home in Cheshire five days after she told him that she was having an affair with a family friend.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court yesterday cleared the wealthy lawyer of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mr Justice Mitting sentenced Lumsden to five years, but told him he would serve half of the sentence. As he has already served 11 months on remand, the partner in a international law firm will be due for release in 19 months.

The judge said that part of the reason the sentence was so low was that the defendant had a muscle-wasting disease in his back and had only been given a few years to live.

Lumsden had discussed retiring in two years and settling on the south coast, but his world was shattered when his wife told him she wanted a divorce.

The jury heard that until Lumsden carried out the attack he had a seemingly stern, reserved character that covered up years of bullying at prep school and a troubled relationship with his parents.

Keith Scholey, a clinical psychologist, said: "A media example of someone with this type of personality would be Spock in Star Trek. These people have a tendency to see the world in a very mechanical or logical manner. They dominantly see the world in logical terms."

After the verdict, Lumsden, took the unusual step of speaking to the court himself. He said: "If there is anything I could do to atone for this appalling tragedy or even to reduce by a small amount the anguish, pain and suffering I have caused, I would do it."

The judge said: "This event occurred, I am satisfied, in significant part because of your depressive condition. Had it not been for that, you would not have snapped as you did."

Mrs Lumsden's lover was Roger Flint, who was married and who had known the defendant and his wife for 15 years. Their month-long affair began at the Bowdon Lawn Tennis Club. The two couples played tennis and bridge together and Mr Flint and Mr Lumsden went to rugby matches - even after the affair had started.

Lumsden told the court: "I had trouble believing what I heard. Alison had lied to me, betrayed me with someone I had regarded as my friend and was abandoning me."

The lawyer, who has been spiralling deeper into a depressive illness since the death of his mother in January last year, said he was left "stunned and numb".

Five days later on the night of 16 March last year he "broke", the jury was told. He plunged a 12cm kitchen knife into his wife's back at their Victorian mansion in Bowdon, and continued to stab her repeatedly in the face and neck. Lumsden told the jury: "I grabbed the knife out of the drawer and went round to the foot of the bed behind her. She saw me and started to stand and turn. I brought the knife down and everything went blank."

The detached house is close to the homes of sports stars including the England cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, and the footballers Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Dennis Irwin. The court heard that the Lumsdens, who have two children - 20-year-old Thomas and 17-year-old Kate - had been happily married until November 2004, when Lumsden was diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease in his back and was told by a specialist that he could have as little as three years to live.

Judge Mitting told Lumsden that, despite a series of mitigating psychological factors, he had still committed a "serious crime". He said: "You knew when you picked up the knife that you were going to plunge it into her."