A WOMAN stabbed 11 times by her partner a year ago has decided to speak out and set the record straight about what happened the night she nearly lost her life.
Bridget Hearn, 51, of Northam, lost her kidney, had a clot in her spleen, stab wounds to her stomach and fractures to her spine and ribs after Paul Vose viciously attacked her on March 2 last year.
Vose was convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent and jailed for nine years in July.
But this is a sentence Bridget feels does not reflect the crime.
She was also unhappy with comments made by judge Justice Butterfield following the trial which referred to Vose's "previous good character".
Ever since the attack Bridget says she has been made to feel like the one in the wrong after Vose made claims that his actions were done in self-defence as he was scared of her.
"I didn't realise he had gone round telling everyone he had had a breakdown and was afraid of me," she said.
Bridget said her relationship with Vose began to break down five years before the attack happened, but said he had never been physically abusive towards her.
"He started getting verbally nasty with me," she said. "I just got used to it. Because he never hit me I put up with it.
"He would call me all sorts of names and say I was nothing but a burden and a glorified housekeeper. I was not treated as an equal; it was like he was the better person."
But Bridget said she eventually called time on the relationship in January of last year.
"I had met someone else and I told him," she added. "I had tried everything for two or three years to get away. In the end he decided he would go. I left to live with mum."
But on the night of the attack Vose lured Bridget back to their house, claiming she needed to be there to look after their animals when he left in the morning to move into his new flat.
"He wanted me there on the Friday," she said. "I didn't think anything of it."
So Bridget returned to Sunhaven, the house they had both shared in Northam, and spent two hours watching TV before heading to bed.
"I went to my daughter's room at 9pm," she said. "Then at 11pm he was kneeling beside me and I said "what are you doing." He said "you are going to die."
Bridget said she has no memory of what happened next.
She was stabbed 11 times to her left side while lying in bed before Vose grabbed her, dragged her downstairs and kicked her repeatedly in the head.
She then managed to lock herself in a downstairs toilet and he left. Bridget called the emergency services herself but remembers nothing about the call.
She has since been offered the chance to listen to the recording, and the chance to look at photos of herself after the attack, but decided against it.
After Vose left the house he crashed his car into a wall in Westward Ho! and was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, where police arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder.
But the charge was changed to grievous bodily harm with intent. Bridget says she wishes she had pressed for an attempted murder charge.
"My doctor said this was attempted murder," she said. "I didn't think at the time I would be physically well again. I had concussion for five months. I didn't think I could stand up in court and they said I would have to listen to the phone call and see the photos.
"He got away with attempted murder and that is what we should have pursued, but I didn't have the strength."
"I am so fed up with a man serving nine years for what he did," she added. "There are a lot of people blanking me in the street thinking 'poor old Paul'. I wouldn't mind if people came up and asked me.
"He might have been in the Rotary and had his own business but it takes an evil man to do what he did."
Having now recovered from the attack, Bridget has been left with debts totalling £38,000 which Vose had racked up in her name.
She said she was unable to go out and socialise with friends, but has recently started looking for work and is back riding her horses again.
"I couldn't leave the house. When I could walk I got a car. I couldn't stand up straight. I couldn't go out at night or socialise but I am beginning to do that.
"I am not backing down now, I am living my life."