Woman 'driven' to kill husband

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A BATTERED WOMAN who stabbed her husband to death after 20 years of abuse was freed on three years' probation yesterday after a judge ruled she was driven to kill him.

Women's groups welcomed the decision that the marriage endured by Diane Clark, 42, who has five children, had been a "smoking fuse of provocation", according to Judge Gerald Gordon.

The Old Bailey was told how her husband, Graham Clark, 46, regularly beat her, forced her to have sex and was so obsessively jealous she could not go to a male doctor.

Mrs Clark snapped last September after her husband ordered her to leave the family home in the Farncombe area of Surrey. As he went to get her suitcases, his wife went downstairs, armed herself with a knife, followed him to the door of the loft and stabbed him four times in the back and left shoulder.

Peter Feinberg QC, for the defence, said Mrs Clark had endured years of abuse from her husband. "This was a marriage beset by bouts of, at first, drunken violence and forced sex and towards the end, violence and forced sex without even the drink," he said.

"Coupled with that, there was unbridled and totally misguided jealousy. Having lived in what some people may describe as a marriage from hell for some 20 years, and having to cope with the knowledge of what she has done since she killed her husband, our submission is that she has already received the severest punishment that anyone could be given."

Described in court as "placid", Mrs Clark had at times supported the family with jobs as a hairdresser and hotel receptionist while her husband, a gambler, was out of work.

The prosecution accepted her plea of guilty to manslaughter.

Outside court, she said she had not really known her husband's character until after they married. She said: "My overwhelming worry has always been for the children."