Girl watched mother's stabbing

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Michael Saunders, 48, from Swindon, who was handed a 12-year prison sentence at Bristol Crown Court after attepting to murder his partner Michael Saunders, 48, from Swindon, who was handed a 12-year prison sentence at Bristol Crown Court after attepting to murder his partner

A four-year-old girl watched in horror as her father tried to kill her mother by stabbing her repeatedly with a knife, prosecutors have said.

Zoe Fotheringham was slashed across the face in front of her daughter and while their two-year-old son was asleep in his cot during the "atrocious" attack by 49-year-old Michael Saunders.

She was also stabbed several times in the chest with the kitchen knife and suffered a number of wounds to her face and arms.

Saunders, of Swindon, Wiltshire, was handed a 12-year sentence at Bristol Crown Court after admitting the attempted murder of his partner.

Ms Fotheringham, who was 27 at the time of the attack, was taken to hospital after the girl pleaded with her father to call an ambulance.

The four-year-old was able to give a clear account to the police, telling them: "Daddy had the knife. It was a big knife. He tipped the knife upside down and went like this (demonstrating a downward stabbing motion). Mummy got hit on the head."

The girl, who was left traumatised by what she witnessed, told police that she saw her mother bleeding heavily and added: "Daddy told mummy to die and he told the police that mummy had a knife but she didn't. That was a lie."

The couple had been living together on and off for approximately six years after they met in Nottingham, the court heard. Last year they moved their family to Swindon and while Saunders continued working in Nottingham, their relationship started to fall apart and he became abusive.

Following the sentencing the mother-of-two said in a statement: "I am not the only victim in this crime. My four-year-old daughter also had to witness the horrible ordeal - so today there is justice for both of us.

"I am happy with the sentence but had I reported and followed through with previous acts of violence in our home, then perhaps the sentence would have been stronger. I would stress to any victim of domestic violence that however big or small the incident, it is always important to report them to the police, this will help build the bigger picture if ever you end up in a serious violent situation with your partner."

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