Honington serviceman stabbed in “self-defence”, inquest hears

An inquest into the death of a serviceman has heard how his partner stabbed him in self-defence as she feared for her life and that of her young child.

Lance Corporal Leslie Metcalfe, 23, of 1st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment, was stabbed by his partner Nichola Herschell at her home in Poplar Close, Honington, near RAF Honington, in the early hours of March 16 this year.

Today's (Tuesday) inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard how neighbours were awoken by Ms Herschell's screams in a 'desperate tone' and using words along the lines of 'leave me alone' or 'go away'.

The inquest heard how after returning home drunk from the Corporals' Mess on March 16, L-Cpl Metcalfe began being physically abusive to his partner.

He had also turned off the electricity in the house so it was in darkness.

Ms Herschell had told police her two-year-old son woke up and L-Cpl Metcalfe put the knife he was holding about two to three inches from the child's head and told him he had better shut up, or 'something is going to happen'.

She said as soon as she gained possession of the knife he put both of his hands around her throat, and in the struggle she jabbed the knife at him.

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L-Cpl Metcalfe, who was from Merseyside, was pronounced dead at about 10pm on March 17 at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

He had suffered three stab wounds, but the main cause of death was a stab wound to the heart.

Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a narrative verdict.

He said: 'In these circumstances the evidence does clearly confirm that Leslie Metcalfe died from stab wounds inflicted in self-defence in a struggle in which the other person feared for her life and the life of her child.'

He added: 'As I said, there is no suggestion at other times Leslie Metcalfe would indulge in such behaviour.'

L-Cpl Metcalfe had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Crown Prosecution Service felt no charges should be brought against Ms Herschell.

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