Former paramedic who attacked wife with knife ‘wanted her to watch him die’

Police outside a property on Riverside Road in Norwich following a knife attack. Picture Neil Perry.

Police outside a property on Riverside Road in Norwich following a knife attack. Picture Neil Perry. - Credit: Archant

A former paramedic with a 50-year battle with mental illness said he wanted his wife to watch him die after she ended their relationship and 'destroyed his life'.

Paul Brine, 66, is alleged to have carried out a knife attack on his estranged wife and her friend in an alleyway on Riverside Road after she rejected his pleas to have him back. He denies attempted murder but has admitted unlawful wounding.

The prosecution say Brine produced a hunting knife from behind his back "like a dagger" before telling his wife: "I am going to murder you".

But Brine said his wife must have misheard him. He claimed he said he was going to kill himself, and wanted her to watch. But he said the two women were injured as they tried to wrestle the knife from him.

Norwich Crown Court heard he had confronted the pair on November 8 last year, and both women suffered stab wounds before Brine was disarmed by a neighbour.

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He said he bought a sharp blade to kill himself "efficiently", and told his wife: "You are going to watch me die because I can't go on without you, and you are going to have to live with it."

Brine was arrested by armed police at his home in Randell Close, North Walsham, after making two failed suicide attempts. Officers found his will laid out on the table, with a note to his daughter.

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When he was arrested he told officers: "I went to make up with my wife but it went horribly wrong. I stabbed her."

Brine was interviewed by police on November 9 after being released from the James Paget Hospital, and was accompanied by an appropriate adult.

He told officers the couple had been married for 41 years and he had suffered from mood swings and depression since he was a teenager.

In the weeks leading to the incident his mental health deteriorated into "utter depression and despair", he said, with suicidal thoughts emerging for the first time.

"I could see things were going very badly wrong for me. It really did flare up two or three years ago and my dark moods were getting worse. When you are in a very dark area you really don't think about other people's feeling, but [my wife] did say it was upsetting her a great deal.

"I just seemed to go darker and darker."

His career as a paramedic had become "overwhelming" for him, he told the court, and he had spent his later years working voluntarily for the Salvation Army with people with learning disabilities.

"At the time you are engaged in these jobs you know how horrendous they are but you concentrate on the job," he said. "It seems to come back to you some time later, especially in recurrent nightmares."

His wife had been supportive and stuck by him through his problems, but three weeks before the incident she packed her bags and left, refusing to tell her husband or daughter where she had gone.

He said his wife had moved out on a few occasions to allow him to deal with the "trauma in his head".

"This time was different because she left without saying a word," he said.

But Brine said he guessed where she was, as one of her friends from the Red Hat Society lived in Norwich by the river.

"I had to make a decision," he said. "I thought the longer we stay apart the worse it is going to get. I wasn't coping without her and I felt I was falling to pieces.

"Then I got into one of those really black moods where I can't go on without her, and I am going to have to confront this."

Brine said he drank a quarter of a bottle of whisky on route to Riverside Road to give him the courage to end his life.

"It just strengthened me and calmed me," he said. "I thought if I am going to die I want to be a little calmer.

"I thought my world was falling apart and I am just going to end it," he said.

"I think they were going shopping and I said: 'Darling, I can't live without you, it is too much pain.'

"She said: 'You're going to have to, it's over'.

"I was in such a terrible state I got the knife out and held up my arm and said: 'You are going to watch me die because I can't go on without you, and you are going to have to live with it."

He said when he raised the knife both women grabbed his arm, and the blade was "going everywhere".

"I knew this is going from bad to worse," he said. "It was pure accident. We were all pulling the knife in different directions."

When he went to pick the knife back up a neighbour emerged from their house and "jumped on" him.

"I said can I have the knife back, and they said no," he told police. :"I was just exhausted."

"I drove home like a maniac and prepared myself to die".

When he reached his home he made two further attempts on his life after leaving his will in plain sight.

"I was disappointed police got there so quickly because I was lying on my bed hoping I would be dead before they arrived," he told the court.

Brine added he never intended to harm anyone but himself and he couldn't stand the thought of his wife being injured.

"The last thing in the world I wanted to do was harm [my wife]. I wanted to do it in front of her. I wanted her to see how she had devastated me and I wanted her to feel some guilt.

"I was the one that was going to die. I was adamant about that. "I was out of my mind with grief and distress. I have got to take responsibility for stabbing her because I brought the knife.

"This was my problem. My mental health. I had the knife. I thought my life has been utterly destroyed."

But he admitted: "Perhaps I looked terrifying. A man with a knife does look frightening. I just wanted her to see me end my life because she has destroyed me."

"I know I have got mental health issues and she is probably right in leaving me because I am a miserable sod.

"I don't seem to see and enjoy life and maybe I have worn her down. I have to understand her feelings. I don't know if I could put up with me.

"I wanted to frighten her so she might say stop, don't be silly, we can work this out. It doesn't have to go this far. After 40 years she might feel enough love for me to stop me killing myself."

The trial continues.

If you need to talk the Samaritans are available 24/7 on free phone number 116 123.

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