Marital row led to court case

MILD-mannered Peter Dow today vowed never to marry again after being accused of trying to kill his wife during a row in which they throttled each other.

MILD-mannered Peter Dow today vowed never to marry again after being accused of trying to kill his wife during a row in which they throttled each other.

Thinking Jennifer Dow was seeing other men, the 55-year-old was determined to speak to his estranged spouse at the marital home they once shared in New Road, Trimley St Mary.

Believing he was being cuckolded and that his wife had joined a dating agency, Dow ended up tussling with her after she refused to discuss the situation with him.

The bust-up, which took place on April 4 this year, eventually led to Dow admitting to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. An accusation of attempted murder was dropped through lack of evidence.

However after hearing how Mrs Dow begged for her life as her husband gripped her neck, Judge John Devaux said he was prepared to sentence Dow on his version of events rather than his wife's.

Described as meek and a man who would shy away from confrontation, Dow was given 120 hours community service and ordered to pay £100 costs at his sentencing in Ipswich Crown Court.

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Judge Devaux added that had it not been for the original attempted murder charge, which was dropped at a hearing in June, it was unlikely the case would have ever reached crown court.

After his sentencing the twice-married tugboat driver, who now lives at Ferry Road, Orford, said: "I am glad it is all over. The attempted murder charge should have never been brought in the first place. I was surprised.

"I will get on with my life but I don't think I can take on another woman again.

"I am very relieved the judge accepted my version of events and that I was defending myself.

"When we got married I could not have been happier. Things were going well for me and I was extremely happy."

The court was told that after more than five years of marriage the union had soured and his wife, Jennifer, told him she wanted a divorce late last year.

"I was devastated really. I had ploughed so much into hoping this marriage was going to work. But before we got on with our relationship there seemed to be other things that got in the way of it."

During her evidence Mrs Dow was adamant she had not provoked an argument with her husband, whom she married in March 1998.

She told the court at one stage during the row she pleaded with him not to kill her just before she lost consciousness as Dow strangled her.

She said her husband replied that if he could no have her no one would, a claim Dow denied.

Peter Dow's evidence

RANCOUR and bewilderment had replaced the love Peter and Jennifer Dow once shared.

Having to give his wife a substantial amount of money from the sale of the house he once bought for himself from a previous divorce settlement had upset him.

In addition, being told during the row on April 4 that he would not get custody of one of their beloved two dogs also opened old wounds.

Despite their separation Mr Dow was still determined to ask his wife Jennifer why their marriage had irretrievably broken down, when they met unexpectedly at their former home.

Given evidence, Dow told the court he believed his wife had joined a dating agency to find another man.

He said he had received telephone calls from a number of other men, he assumed to be suitors of his wife, at their bungalow in New Road, Trimley St Mary.

The softly-spoken 55-year-old was adamant that on the day of the assault on his wife, he had only laid hands on her to protect himself.

Dow, who has worked at Felixstowe docks for the past 27 years, said he was as surprised as his wife when she turned up at their bungalow to find him there.

Seeing his opportunity Dow said he told his wife he wanted to discuss some issues involving their divorce while they walked their dogs. However Mrs Dow was reluctant to do so.

He denied blocking the way when his former wife wanted to pass by him in the kitchen.

Dow said: "I was still trying to ask her what's going on. I was so suspicious of so many things that were happening I couldn't understand what was going on.

"I started to follow her. The dogs were running around my feet with their leads on. I put them outside and I heard a door slam by the time I put them back."

The court heard he went back inside to the living room and pushed the door open by about two feet, even though a chair was behind it, to find his wife pacing up and down in the lounge.

Dow said he sat down on the sofa, hoping his wife would sit down to discuss matters.

She told him it was not appropriate for him to have custody of the dogs as he worked shifts, even though Dow wanted to look after them.

He said: "I didn't want to lose everything. It would have meant an awful lot to me.

"She was aggravated. She started F-ing and blinding like she does. I don't like that kind of language."

He added he pleaded with her to tell him the truth about seeing someone else and told her she had not been fair.

Dow alleged Mrs Dow became increasing more frustrated and abusive especially when he told her "I am pretty sure you are seeing somebody".

Dow told Judge Devaux: "She was giving me abuse and swearing at me. She lunged at me and went for my throat and said 'I don't want you here'. I tried to release her hands around my throat and put my hands round her throat and gripped her and I thought she would let go. We tussled and went over a chair. I think I was laying on top of her with my hands round her throat and I was sort of frozen there.

"She said 'Don't kill me, don't kill me' I released her to let her get her breath back. I got to my knees and wanted to get her up. She just kicked her feet out to my thighs.

"I never said I was going to kill her.

"I noticed I had scratched her neck and said I was sorry about it. I said 'I hate to lose you, I love you so much and I can't understand what has gone wrong in this marriage'."

After his evidence two character witnesses were called to testify on Dow's behalf.

His uncle Raymond Smy and a friend of his family Richard Bantoft, both of Orford, said they had known Dow all his life and never seen him lose his temper or become involved in arguments.

Jennifer Dow's evidence.

FRUSTRATED by her husband's timid personality Jennifer Dow decided to bring their marriage to an end.

Having returned on April 4 this year to the home in Trimley St Mary they had once shared, Mrs Dow told Ipswich Crown Court, she was surprised to find her husband there.

She arrived at the bungalow around 5.30pm and went in, while a male friend waited in a car for her outside.

Mrs Dow said her intention was to walk the dogs, but she was startled to discover her husband behind the kitchen door, through which she entered the property.

She told Judge Devaux the conversation was friendly to begin with. As the minutes progress Mrs Dow said she noticed tension in the air and when she looked at her husband's face something was not quite right.

The court heard as she was about to leave with the dogs, her husband blocked her path to the back door. Mrs Dow said Dow refused to let her out and was "uncomfortably close" to her.

She told the court she felt she needed to get to the telephone. She went to the lounge and had pushed a chair against it, when her husband barged his way into the room.

She said: "I said 'What are you doing? What are you doing'. As he came through the door, he forced it with great pressure, pushing the chair over and I was pushed to the sofa. He lunged and he was on top of me. His face was in my face. I was fighting for breath. I had his hands round my throat. The pressure was so great I couldn't speak, I couldn't breathe. He knew what he was doing.

"I was losing consciousness. I could feel my head going round and round. He just had a wild expression in his eyes. He just glared at me. I had my arms underneath me."

Mrs Dow said her husband released his grip.

She said: "I said 'For God's sake what are you doing?'. He said 'I've got to kill you now, I've got to kill you'. He said he had lost his home and lost everything. I said 'Please don't kill me'."

Mrs Dow said she kicked out at her husband aiming for his groin.

She said: "He came at me again and I said 'Please Peter, don't do this to me again'. He just went for my throat again."

Mrs Dow described the pressure of Dow's hands as "very, very great".

"I was just fighting for my every breath. I wanted so much to say please stop but I couldn't."

Mrs Dow said her husband finally took his hands away from her throat and she pleaded with him to let her leave the house.

"He took me in his arms and said he loved me and if he could not have me, nobody else would. I promised I would not go to the police. He let me go and I just walked out of the house."

Mrs Dow got into her friend's car and was driven to a police station before going to Ipswich Hospital for treatment.

Under cross-examination from her husband's barrister Lindsay Cox QC, Mrs Dow strongly denied she often used foul language in arguments with him and said she had only sworn four times during their marriage out of frustration.

Mrs Dow said every time they had a serious argument her husband would run to his mother's in Orford to avoid confrontation.

She also refuted Mr Cox's suggestion she had been argumentative on the day of the row and had provoked Dow before the bust-up had become physical.

Mrs Dow was adamant she had not grabbed her husband round the throat during the fight.