Glasgow & West Scotland

John Docherty jailed for 'sleepwalk' murder bid on wife

Eileen Docherty
Image caption Eileen Docherty was stabbed by John Docherty

A taxi driver who claimed that he was sleepwalking when he stabbed his wife has been jailed for six years.

John Docherty attacked 56-year-old Eileen at their home in Penilee, Glasgow, in December 2009, leaving her permanently scarred.

The 57-year-old lodged a special defence claiming that he was acting during the onset of somnambulism.

A jury found him guilty of attempted murder following a week-long trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The attack happened on 14 December 2009 at the couple's home in Bowfield Crescent.

Marriage issue

The court heard how Docherty had not been himself for a number of weeks prior to the incident.

He thought his wife of 37 years was seeing another man and began to check her mobile phone and text messages.

The father-of-two even joined her at work during one of her weekend shifts, the court heard.

The pair eventually sought medical help and their GP later noted there was a marriage issue.

The evening before the attack, Docherty and his wife had gone on a night out with friends.

They returned to their home about midnight and Mrs Docherty went to bed leaving her husband downstairs.

Prosecutors said that in a drunken and jealous rage he grabbed a kitchen knife and attacked his wife.

The court heard Docherty's 999 call in which he claimed there had been a fight. He also stated his wife had told him she had been with his friend.

Mrs Docherty suffered a number of wounds to her face, neck and hands. One doctor said they were potentially life threatening.

She told the trial that she still loved her husband, adding: "I basically know that he was asleep. There is no way he would have done this knowingly."

Special defence

Docherty - who had a history of sleepwalking - lodged a unique special defence claiming he had no recollection of the incident although accepted he had caused the injuries.

He also insisted that there had not been any bad feeling between himself and his wife.

But, sleep expert Professor Colin Espie told the court it was highly unlikely Docherty would have been asleep at the time.

Jailing the taxi driver, Judge John Beckett QC told Docherty: "You nearly killed your wife, but, during your time on remand, she has visited you in prison almost every day and has forgiven you.

"While you have a history of sleepwalking, you were not sleepwalking when you committed this dreadful crime."

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