A “LOVING husband” who drank a bottle of whisky while battling depression tried to suffocate his wife with a pillow as she lay in bed, telling her: “You’re going to die today.”

Brian Corrigan, 53, then armed himself with a knife and told his wife Sharon that they were going to die that day.

At Carlisle Crown Court, after hearing about what were said to be the “exceptional circumstances” that form the background to the offending, Judge Nicholas Barker spared the defendant from an immediate jail term.

Corrigan pleaded guilty to the offences of suffocation and threatening a person with a knife.

His not guilty to an attempted murder charge was accepted by the prosecution and he was declared not guilty of that offence.

Prosecutor Kim Whittlestone said the prosecution was based on the contents of a 999 call made by the defendant’s wife at around 8am on June 20, as well as comments made by the defendant himself on that day.

In her 999 call, Mrs Corrigan asked for an ambulance, telling the call handler her husband was unconscious after drinking alcohol while on medication for depression.

When asked to check his breathing, she said she did not want to approach her husband because he had tried to kill her earlier that morning.

The barrister said: “She said that she was in bed when he came in with a pillow and put it over her head and shouted ‘You are going to die.’ He had pushed the pillow hard into her face, she told the officers.

When she finally got him off her, he said his head was ‘screwed’. He could see both of them dying that day, he told her.

Officers arrived at the property to find Corrigan lying on the living room floor, semi-conscious and incoherent. He was heard to say: “Tried to kill Sharon.”

“He sort of snapped,” she said, pointing out that she only shook him off because she squeezed a weak spot under his arm that she knew he had.

Mark Shepherd, defending, said Corrigan and his wife had been together for 23 years and she described him as “her loving husband, her best friend, her soulmate and her rock.”

The lawyer said: “She regrets calling the emergency services but Mr Corrigan has made it clear that she did absolutely the right thing. The purpose of her calling the emergency services was to help him, not herself.

“She feels he is genuinely remorseful.”

The defendant, who appeared before the court with several glowing references from family and friends, had experienced suicidal thoughts and suffered  bereavements, including the loss of his mother.

Judge Barker noted a doctor’s assessment that at the time of his offending Corrigan was suffering a “severe depressive episode” and low mood to the extent that this overwhelmed him.

His offending came after the defendant, who had been abstinent from alcohol for 18 years, drank a bottle of whisky. “This is undoubtedly a complex and difficult sentencing exercise,” he said.

The judge told Corrigan, of Plasketts Lane, Wigton,: “I can tell you that exceptionally, wholly exceptionally, I consider that this sentence can be suspended.”

The reasons included Corrigan's clear and genuine remorse, that he had served the equivalent of a ten month sentence already, and that his wife was determined they should continue their relationship,

The defendant was given 16 months jail, suspended for two  years, with a 120 day alcohol abstinence order, ten rehabilitation activity days and a mental health treatment programme.