Woman who killed man after attack is cleared of murder: Three-year prison sentence follows manslaughter conviction

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The Independent Online
A MOTHER who suffered a long history of violence at the hands of men was yesterday cleared of murdering her best friend's lover in a revenge attack two hours after he had broken her nose with a punch.

Helena Kennedy QC, for the defence, said 36-year-old Jackie Child finally 'snapped' after years of abuse by her father and boyfriends.

'She had suffered personal violence herself and the man here was the kind who created terror. It is difficult for anyone who has not experienced that situation to know how someone else reacts to the threat of violence.'

The jury at Luton Crown Court cleared Child of murdering 25-year- old Ian Fernandez but convicted her of manslaughter and she was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

The court was told that Child and her best friend Marie Clabby, 24, had been drinking at a pub on 19 August last year to celebrate her 35th birthday. In the evening they returned to the flat Ms Clabby shared with her Mr Fernandez in Buckle Close, Luton.

A violent row erupted between Child and Mr Fernandez when he insulted his girlfriend. He punched Child in the face and she went to her home in nearby Copenhagen Close. Nearly two hours later Child was still angry and armed herself with a large carving knife before returning to Mr Fernandez's flat. As he met her on the doorstep, Child plunged the knife into his stomach, and then slashed him across the throat. He tried to escape by climbing through a window but bled to death on his front lawn.

Timothy Cassel QC, for the prosecution, said: 'This was a revenge killing, not a sudden loss of self control.'

But Child, who has a four-year- old daughter and two teenage sons, told the jury: 'He started abusing me, then he pushed me and raised his hand as if to hit me. I thought 'Oh no' and just freaked. I thought I just punched him in the stomach, but I do not recollect another thing. I have no memory of the knife whatsoever.'

Jailing her, Mr Justice Sedley said he accepted Child was a long- term victim of violence and had been provoked that night. 'But I also have in mind that a man is dead.'

After he passed the sentence, a member of Mr Fernandez's family shouted: 'Three years, is that all a life is worth?'