Woman 'stabbed violent boyfriend in self-defence'
A woman lashed out at her violent ex-policeman boyfriend during an argument, stabbing him in the heart, a court heard today.
Michelle Doherty plunged the 4.5in (12cm) kitchen knife into James Hardy at the home they shared in Hasland, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
The 27-year-old denies one count of murder, claiming she acted in self-defence in the early hours of December 6 last year.
The jury was told that Doherty, now of Lawn Villas, Calow, near Chesterfield, claims she cannot remember grabbing the knife as 31-year-old Mr Hardy had his hands round her throat, but accepts she must have done so.
But the prosecution alleged there was no evidence to suggest that Doherty had been strangled, and that she even delayed calling the emergency services.
Prosecutor Gregory Dickinson QC told the court that Doherty and her boyfriend, whose career in the police force ended when he was jailed for misconduct in 2006, had a volatile relationship.
Bodybuilding fan Mr Hardy, who took steroids regularly, had attacked his girlfriend several times before, the court heard.
But Mr Dickinson said 27-year-old Doherty had also lashed out before, and was seen by other people to have punched him.
Mr Dickinson said: "At about 1.30am on December 12 last year, the defendant, Michelle Doherty, and her boyfriend, James Hardy, were at home together.
"They started to argue and the argument became a fight. There's nothing unusual about that because this was a stormy relationship.
"The defendant picked up a kitchen knife and she stabbed her boyfriend in the chest.
"The knife went nearly to the hilt, about 4.5in, or 12cm, and it penetrated Mr Hardy's heart."
Mr Dickinson said the couple lived together since 2005 in Bradgate Croft, Hasland, at a house Mr Hardy had bought in 2002 with a previous girlfriend.
He said: "The relationship between James Hardy and Michelle Doherty was volatile, they had frequent rows, there were a number of episodes of violence and several separations.
"The defendant herself described it as a 'love-hate' relationship."
Police and ambulance staff arrived at the scene to find the front door locked, Mr Dickinson said.
After they forced their way in, they found Mr Hardy on the living room floor in a pool of blood.
He had been stabbed once in the chest, and medics failed to resuscitate him, the court heard.
There was blood spattered in both the kitchen and the living room, and footprints in blood going up the stairs, Mr Dickinson said.
He told the jury that the prosecution allege that Doherty, who claimed she dialled 999 straightaway, had delayed and gone upstairs in between the stabbing and called for help.
In police interview, Doherty told officers her boyfriend was "p***** off" when he picked her up.
She claimed Mr Hardy had become suspicious and angry because she returned home without the tights she had gone out in.
The 27-year-old claimed he had hit her behind her left ear, knocking her to the sofa, and had stamped on her thumb.
She said he grabbed her around the throat in the kitchen, pushing her against the sink area, and was making it difficult for her to breathe.
Mr Dickinson said: "She claimed to have no recollection of picking up the knife and stabbing James Hardy.
"She says the next thing she remembers is seeing James Hardy in the living room before he collapsed.
"She said in interview she did not know why she stabbed James Hardy or even which room they were in.
"She says that when he went to the ground in the living room she called 999 straightaway."
The court heard that a post-mortem examination found that Mr Hardy died of a single stab wound to the chest.
Forensic examinations found that Doherty was just under the blood alcohol level for drink-driving 11 hours after the murder, and back calculations suggested she would have been around three-and-a-half times the limit at the time of the incident.
Medical examinations did not find any bruising or signs of strangulation on her neck, Mr Dickinson said.
He said Doherty could not have been in fear of her life that night, and had no "lawful reason" to kill Mr Hardy.
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