Halesowen love triangle killing was lawful says coroner

Halesowen News: Fatal stabbing scene at Graham Road, Halesowen Fatal stabbing scene at Graham Road, Halesowen

A JEALOUS father who kicked in the door of his ex-partner’s Halesowen home in a drink and drug-fuelled row over their child was lawfully killed in self defence, an inquest concluded.

David Carpenter died from a single stab wound when a large kitchen knife was plunged 20cm into his chest and lung by Nicola Bennett’s new lover Ian Swinburne.

The 47-year-old had forced his way into the semi-detached house in Graham Road with his nephew Mitchell While after a heated telephone argument about what time he should bring their child home on Sunday February 3 2013.

Miss Bennett said she was “pertrified” when Mr Carpenter and Mr While turned up at the house after drinking several pints and started banging on the doors and windows.

Neighbours came out to see what the commotion was in their normally quiet cul-de-sac.

Miss Bennett said she tried to stop them getting in, but they held her by the throat and forced their way passed her.

“They were like a pack of wolves, they were like two lions coming in through the door,” she said.

Mr Swinburne, also of Graham Road, told today's inquest at Smethwick how he picked up the knife from the kitchen worktop to frighten the two men.

He said: “The last thing I wanted to do was stab him.”

But Mr Carpenter, who was two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit, was stabbed during what Miss Bennett described as “a brawl” in which all four of them ended up on the floor in the conservatory.

Mr Swinburne was initially charged with murder when police mistakingly thought the intruder had been stabbed three times.

They later discovered two of the wounds were caused a member of the emergency response team as they tried to save the dying dad.

Miss Bennett told the inquest Mr Carpenter, who was a heavy drinker, took amphetamines and was addicted to the prescribed drug tramadol after suffering renal cancer, was a sad and unhappy man.

They had been together for 21 years, but had slept in separate bedrooms for five years and she told him about her relationship with Mr Swinburne just before Christmas 2012.

She agreed he could stay at the house until after Christmas for the sake of their child, but after downing a bottle of vodka on Christmas Eve he made abusive phone calls to her while she was out shopping and threatened to kill her.

On Christmas Day she called the police and they advised Mr Carpenter should leave the house, but Miss Bennett said she could not throw him out because he was “penniless” and had nowhere to go.

But he later moved in with one of his sisters and despite being sacked by his employer several times, was taken back as a painter and decorator.

Another sister, Sylvia Carberry, of Langston Road, Dudley, said he was happy and was getting his life back on track when tragedy struck.

She said he died “trying to protect” his child and told the inquest that her family could not move on following his death.

Mr While, aged 29, who was given a four month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, put on probation for six months and ordered to carry out 150 hours community service after admitting biting Mr Swinburne during the fight, said Mr Swinburne had been abusive on the phone to him and his uncle.

Mr Carpenter and his child had been at Mr While’s home in Bodenham Road, Brandhall, when the telephone argument over what time the child should return to Miss Bennett broke out.

He said threats of violence were made by Mr Swinburne which triggered their fatal decision to go to the house to sort it out.

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain said the mix of drink, drugs, emotion, jealousy and the care of a child was a “recipe for disaster” and what should have been easily resolved “escalated out of all proportion”.

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