A woman who allegedly plunged a knife into her boyfriend's neck, causing him to suffer a stroke following the "catastrophic" wounding to an artery, has been cleared of attempted murder.
Amid emotional scenes, Marcia Francis was also found not guilty by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court today of wounding Italian-born Pasquale Mustoe with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.
The 43-year-old had claimed during the trial that she never intended to harm her 33-year-old partner during the incident at her Westgate home in September last year following an argument about him cheating on her.
Marcia Francis. Picture: Mike Gunnill
"I just wanted to scare him - just to show him up and leave me alone," she told the jurors as she wept in the witness box.
The court heard the couple were rowing when Francis went into the kitchen at her flat in Ethelbert Terrace.
The fencing company business development manager said: "I just grabbed at the knife block. I put my arm in the air and said: 'Shut up.'
"I didn't think I had touched him. I have let go of the knife. I turned around to make coffee. I saw blood squirting. I just wanted to scare him.
"I am not trying to lunge at him or hit him. I am not actually trying to stab him. I can't believe I have."
Boyfriend Pasquale Musto. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Francis then drove Mr Mustoe, a former chef, to the QEQM Hospital in Margate. The blade had penetrated his neck by six to nine inches and on arrival he went into cardiac arrest, leaving him in need of blood transfusions and other life-saving treatment.
Francis later admitted wounding and was today jailed for 31 months and two weeks at the conclusion of her trial.
Passing sentence, Judge Charles Macdonald QC said he had taken her remorse and previous good character into account.
He also referred to the "prolonged stress" of the couple's relationship.
Judge Charles Macdonald QC at Maidstone Crown Court
During her evidence, Francis was asked by her legal team how she felt about the injury she had inflicted to Mr Mustoe.
She replied: "I will never forgive myself. I have never been able to say sorry to him.
"I just want him to know I didn't mean it. I am so sorry for the impact I have caused. I never meant to do that to anybody."
The couple had been together for eight years during which time Francis had accused Mr Mustoe, from Ramsgate, of infidelity on a number of occasions.
Pasquale Musto and Marcia Francis. Picture: Mike Gunnill
However, prosecutor Danny Moore told the court during his opening speech that in the lead up to the stabbing, Francis accused her boyfriend of cheating on her with a man.
There was said to be "bubbling tension" between the pair during the early hours of September 29, with Mr Mustoe also accusing Francis of infidelity.
However, Mr Mustoe, now an unemployed sales rep, told the court he could not recall the argument before he was stabbed, only seeing Francis with a knife in her hand and then having a towel pressed against his neck.
Sentence was passed at Maidstone Crown Court
He said Francis assumed he was having a gay relationship, but he was not.
Mr Mustoe added: "I am quite sure she wanted to kill me. I said she must have been very angry."
Police later found two bloodstained knives at the flat. One was 20cm long and the other 15cm long. The larger knife had blood staining 7cm up the blade and the smaller knife 4cm up the blade.
Mr Mustoe suffered only one wound but an expert stated both knives could have caused it.