Suffolk mother killed man in self defence, inquest told

A woman killed her knife-wielding soldier boyfriend in self-defence as she feared for her own and her son's life, an inquest has been told.

The hearing in Bury St Edmunds revealed Lance Corporal Leslie Metcalfe, 23, was stabbed in the chest on 16 March and died the next day after heart surgery.

Nichola Herschell, 22, wrestled the knife off him as he threatened her son.

Coroner Peter Dean recorded that Mr Metcalfe died from wounds inflicted in self-defence during a struggle.

He had staggered out of Miss Herschell's home in Honington, Suffolk, in the early hours of 16 March and said: "My girlfriend has stabbed me".

Witnesses said Miss Herschell stood holding a blood-covered knife repeating: "It was self-defence".

She was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released without charge.

Mr Metcalfe, of 1st Battalion The Royal Tank Regiment, had met her when he was based at RAF Honington after returning from Afghanistan.

Image caption Nichola Herschell feared for her own life and for her son threatened with a knife

Det Insp David Giles said during interviews Miss Herschell had said her boyfriend had been at the mess and returned in the early hours.

"After an argument he had come upstairs with a kitchen knife.

"She said her son woke up and started crying and he went in to his room and held the knife to him."

Over drink-drive limit

Pathologist Nat Cary said he found evidence Miss Herschell had been held around the neck and Mr Metcalfe's injuries were consistent with her account.

Police held a reconstruction to corroborate her version of events and the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Dean said: "Leslie Metcalfe died from stab wounds inflicted in self-defence in a struggle in which the other person feared for her life.

"Those who knew Mr Metcalfe showed he normally behaved in a manner befitting a professional serviceman but alcohol played a part in the incident."

Mr Metcalfe was three times the legal drink-drive limit when tested.

He died in Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

His family, originally from Bootle, Merseyside, also attended.

Stepfather Joseph Sweeney, said: "We are terribly upset about what happened to Leslie.

"We would now like time to grieve. Whatever the result of the inquest, it is not going to bring Leslie back. We did not come here for retribution."

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