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Olive Ripley, from Faversham, jailed for stabbing ex-husband George Sherbourne in Norton

A bitter woman stabbed her ex-husband twice and instead of taking him to hospital drove him around in her car for an hour as he bled profusely, a court heard.

After knifing George Sherbourne in the chest and back in the kitchen of their caravan, Olive Ripley, 61, told him: “I want you to die you b******.”

While she was driving him around, he pleaded with her to take him to hospital, but she responded: “No, I am going to take you home to die.”

Olive Ripley. Picture: Kent Police.
Olive Ripley. Picture: Kent Police.

A neighbour eventually took the 70-year-old victim to Sittingbourne for medical treatment and he was transferred to a London hospital with life threatening injuries, including two punctured lungs, and given emergency surgery.

Ripley, of Lion Field, Faversham, wept as she was jailed for six years today after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent and theft. Her not guilty plea to attempted murder was accepted.

A judge said the 40-year relationship had “turned poisonous and destructive” and warned there should never again be contact between them.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the couple, who had nine children, were divorced but continued to live together in the torrid relationship.

Ripley - described by her lawyer as “a mouse until she recently started to fight back” - had taken out non-molestation orders against Mr Sherbourne and police had logged 63 incidents between them.

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

After his recovery, Mr Sherbourne told police Ripley had woken him up at the caravan park in Straight Hill, Norton, in the early hours of November 11 last year and accused him of giving away bedding.

“She was making various accusations against him, including infidelity,” said prosecutor Daniel Stevenson.

They both went to the kitchen and she picked up a knife from the table and stabbed him in back and in the chest when he turned around. He had only a towel around him.

She took his phone so that he could not call the police, so he staggered outside to get help. Neighbour Glen Branson said he would take Mr Sherbourne to hospital, but Ripley said she would.

“She drove him around for a significant period of time, not to hospital as she promised,” said Mr Stevenson. “She said on the journey he was to die.

“At one point she told him to get out of the car, despite his serious state and the fact he was pumping blood. He described her pulling at him and striking him with a claw hammer, which connected with his head.

"Olive Ripley and the victim shared a volatile relationship and had done for many years. This escalated and it was simply good fortune that the injuries to the victim were not fatal" - DCI Richard Vickery

“He defended himself and swung at her with the back of his hand. He managed to close the car door. She said he was going to be left to die. She then told him she would drive him home to die.”

She drove him to Queenborough service station to get fuel. She accused him of infidelity throughout the journey. She took his wallet and removed money from it, before throwing it back at him.

When she finally took him back to the caravan Mr Branson saw his condition and said he had to go to hospital, adding: “You haven’t got long to live.”

As he set off for the Memorial Hospital in Sittingbourne, Ripley was burning bedding. Mr Branson realised the victim had a second stab wound close to his heart that was spurting blood.

Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital
Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital

At the non-A&E hospital, air ambulance paramedics inserted a chest drain and he was taken to King’s College Hospital in London.

Mr Sherboure’s condition deteriorated and doctors confirmed that without such prompt treatment at the scene, his injuries were life threatening.

He had a 3cm wound to his chest and a 2cm wound to his lower back. There was a collection of blood in his right lung.

When police arrived at the caravan site at 8.30am, two separate fires were burning. Items in the fires included jewellery boxes and bloodstained clothing.

The couple’s daughter told police the relationship had always been turbulent and described them as “equally responsible” and as bad as each other.

When arrested, Ripley said: “He hit me. The knife is in the caravan.” She complained of feeling unwell and was taken to hospital for treatment.

The victim said he had about £400 in his wallet, but only £30 left after Ripley took it. He also discovered his safe, containing up to £15,000 worth of jewellery, was missing from inside his wardrobe.

Mr Stevenson said there had been a large amount of incidents over the years. Despite Ripley having taken out a non-molestation order against Mr Sherbourne, she continued to instigate contact. They had assaulted each other in the past.

Passing sentence, Judge Adele Williams said: “This is a really tragic case.”

She told Ripley: “Before he was taken to hospital, you drove him around for about an hour, which I regard as an aggravating feature of your offending. You also made attempts to dispose of evidence by burning it.

“What is plain from the evidence before me is this relationship had turned poisonous and destructive for both of you, but it endured.

"There is no doubt about it that in your declining years you need to stay away from George Sherbourne for your own good and for his" - Judge Adele Williams, to Ripley

“Each of you behaved in an obsessive fashion to the other. Each of you had been violent to the other. The injury was serious and it was a sustained assault.

“There is no doubt about it that in your declining years you need to stay away from George Sherbourne for your own good and for his, and the sentence I am going to pass will ensure that takes place.”

The judge made a restraining order banning Ripley from having any contact with Mr Sherbourne.

She added: “That order will be forever. You break that order on your release and you will end up in prison again.”

Ripley’s daughter, who was in court with other siblings, shouted: “You will do three years.”

Philip Sinclair, defending, told the judge: “Whichever way one looks at it, this is a tragic case.”

The couple first met when Ripley was 16. They had nine children, three of whom died.

Judge Adele Williams
Judge Adele Williams

“The relationship was abusive from the start,” said Mr Sinclair. “While their children agree they were as bad as each other, that doesn’t characterise their relationship.

“Family members say he was much more violent to her than she was to him. You have seen her standing in the dock. She is a very small woman. She has had her hip and collarbone broken.”

They were from the travelling community, in which marriage was for life and divorce was shameful, said Mr Sinclair.

“This was a marriage punctuated by his infidelity,” he continued. “She attempted to leave but kept going back.

“She accepts she snapped. She was angry and upset and acted completely illogically. The family said she was a mouse until fairly recently when she started to fight back.”

Ripley was in poor health, suffering from IBS and lung disease. She had a stroke while on remand.

Mr Sinclair added: “They can’t stay away from one another. They will be apart for a number of years. You can be confident that is likely to break this bond. She is her own worst enemy.”

After the hearing, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Richard Vickery said: "During this investigation it was clear Olive Ripley and the victim shared a volatile relationship and had done for many years. This escalated and it was simply good fortune that the injuries to the victim were not fatal.

"If anyone finds themselves in such an unpredictable relationship I want to remind them that there is help available for victims of domestic abuse. I would urge any who feels they are being abused not to suffer in silence and report it."

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