A 52-YEAR-OLD man who tried to kill his 78-year-old Ellesmere Port partner in a "frenzied" attack was stopped by the actions of her neighbours.

Wayne Hill repeatedly punched and stabbed victim Jean Beecher, leaving her with terrible, life-threatening injuries, including one to her brain, Chester Crown Court heard on Thursday, November 28.

Hill, who was from Ellesmere Port but had recently been living on London Road, Sandbach, had previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

Prosecuting, Andrew Ford told the court this was Hill's second conviction for attempted murder, after he received a 10-year prison sentence in 1994 for stabbing his ex-partner and injuring a police officer.

Mr Justice Ian Dove sentenced Hill to life imprisonment with a minimum of 10 years, telling him there was "extensive evidence" to say he was a dangerous man who posed a very high risk of very serious harm to the public, in particular women.

Mr Ford told the court the attack happened on August 20, just after 10pm, at Mrs Beecher's home address in Little Sutton.

Mrs Beecher had lost her husband two years prior and, while Hill would go round and do jobs for her and be helpful, the relationship was described as "uneven". He had previously proposed marriage to her while drunk.

On the night of the attack, Hill had gone to her address and sat in front of her in a way that his legs restrained hers. Mrs Beecher told him she did not want him to sleep over, but he moved to kiss her.

She rebuffed him with a slap, to which Hill replied: "Don't you ever slap me."

Hill punched her several times to the face and head. Mrs Beecher would later say of the attack: "I thought I was a goner."

Hill pushed his thumbs on to her throat and tried to strangle her. Mrs Beecher removed his hands but he bit one of her fingers.

Mrs Beecher escaped to the kitchen but Hill followed her, picked up a breadknife and threatened to kill her.

The victim disarmed Hill, threw the knife out of the house to the bin storage area, and fled the house to a neighbouring home.

Hill followed, having picked up a second table knife.

On a grassy area outside the neighbour's property, Mrs Beecher said she could not describe fully what happened as her eyes were swollen from the attack.

Two neighbours – Tracey Diamond and Mark Diamond – heard the attack and a shout of "help me" and went to their bedroom window to see Hill attacking Mrs Beecher with about seven or eight blows.

The couple described Mrs Beecher as being in a severe state, pleading for help, as Hill said he was going to kill her. They could smell drink on Hill.

They successfully restrained Hill until emergency services arrived.

Mr Ford added: "The actions of the neighbours may have saved her life."

When arrested, Hill said: "Is she dead? I put a knife through her f***ing neck – no woman slaps me. I stabbed her 50 times...have I murdered her?

"I'm never getting out of jail again, I'm sorry."

Mrs Beecher's injuries included fractures to the eye and face, affecting her vision, a knife wound which caused a brain injury, and a very large, deep wound to her right shin which may mean she requires a walking stick.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Beecher said: "I wanted to have a normal life – he has taken that away from me."

She added she had eternal gratitude to her neighbours for saving her.

Hill had a criminal record for violence, including battery and malicious communications recently.

He was handed a 10-year jail term in 1994 for attempted murder in which he stabbed his ex-partner and left the knife embedded in her back.

The court heard the time since the offence meant it felt "just short" of an automatic life sentence.

Defending, Simon Mills said Hill had expressed remorse and, "while it means very little at this stage", he wished to apologise to Mrs Beecher for the serious harm he caused her.

On the morning of the offence Hill had been living with his mother, who had been receiving threats by a neighbour, which had caused Hill upset.

He was very close with his mother, and suffered from an anti-social behaviour disorder.

He had spoken with his offender manager saying the police had been to visit and were polite and reasonable, and revealed for the first time of his relationship with Mrs Beecher. The officer told him not to go to her property.

He had been drinking very heavily – on average 15 pints of beer and a bottle of whisky "each and every day", which Mr Mills said began to deteriorate Hill's cognitive abilities.

Since the arrest, Hill was concerned he would not see his mother, but "accepted he is the author of that by his admittedly dreadful actions that day," Mr Mills concluded.

Sentencing Hill, the judge said: "What you engaged upon that evening was a vicious and cruel attack on a vulnerable person.

"You stabbed her with a knife over and over again. You tried to strangle her. She thought she was going to die at your hands that night.

"The injuries she suffered were horrendous. They were life-threatening and continue to dog her. They will be a constant reminder of that terrible evening. it remains to be seen how she will recover.

"You were drunk at the time, having become overloaded with alcohol, you lost any vestige of significant control and clearly intended to end her life.

"It's only neighbours who saved her life; they are undoubtedly to be highly commended for what they did. It must have been distressing and terrifying to them to have faced that.

"I have no choice but to impose a life sentence.

"There is some mitigation - you have not sought to hide away from what you did that night. You clearly have some psychological problems which play a part with what you did that night.

"You let your mother and your family down."

Following sentencing, Detective Inspector Stuart York, who led the investigation for Cheshire Constabulary, said: “The elderly victim was subjected to a sickening assault that began in a house and continued outside as she attempted to escape a drunk man who was trying to kill her.

“He had said to her that he was going to kill her and his actions show that he had every intent to carry that threat out.

“Thankfully people living in neighbouring homes came to her rescue and I cannot praise them enough for restraining Hill, calling emergency services and keeping him restrained until officers and paramedics arrived.

“They bravely put the victim’s welfare above their own and their actions undoubtedly saved her life.

“Hill’s attempts to kill the victim left her with serious injuries that require ongoing medical attention.

“Although she will never be able to forget what happened to her, I hope the fact that Hill has been handed a life sentence and will spend at least the next 10 years in jail will provide her with some closure and enable her to move forward with her life.

“I also hope that it sends the message far and wide that such violence will not be tolerated.

“I am relieved that Hill is now behind bars facing the consequences of his actions and I would like to thank all the officers involved in the investigation for their hard work in securing this conviction.

“I would particularly like to thank Detective Constable John Palmi for the compassionate victim care, support and reassurance he has provided, and for the professional and diligent conduct of the investigation.

“This secured the early guilty plea and prevented the victim from having to attend court.”

Hill must serve a minimum of 10 years in jail before he will be considered for release.

The knives in the attack were to be forfeited and destroyed.