A recent article in The Times reported the account of a wife who had been attacked by her husband nearly resulting in her death. The underlying reason for the husband’s actions was the despair brought about by crippling debt. But before we look at the tragic case, it’s worth noting what Bennett Jones could have done for the couple. Our debt advisors would have looked at the couple’s mortgage payment, monthly bills and expenditure. An IVA could have been proposed to their creditors that would have allowed the couple to pay only what they could afford over a 5-year period, with the balance of the debt written off after the successful completion of the IVA. This would certainly have brought peace of mind to the husband and avoided the horrific events which unfolded in the couple’s lives.
The husband tried to kill his wife in the middle of the night because of financial troubles. Karen Sawyer, 61, was asleep when her husband Andrew cut her wrist and said: “I’ll stay with you until the end and then I’ll do me.” She did not want to press charges against him because she believed he did it “from a place of love”.
She managed to lock herself in the bathroom and call emergency services while her husband, 69, started harming himself. Winchester crown court was told that Mr Sawyer, a father of two, had taken responsibility for the family’s finances but they had debt “coming out of their ears”. The husband wanted to end both their lives to free them from mortgage payments, £25,000 credit card bills and a debt management plan.
The wife had lost the hair salon she ran as a result of the pandemic. The husband lost his job as an electrical sales consultant after being furloughed during lockdown. He admitted attempted murder and was jailed for three years and ten months, but the court was told that the couple remained in a loving marriage and the wife had always insisted that she did not want to press charges.
The Judge told him: “It is not worth ending your life because you can’t afford the mortgage. Having each other is so much more important than having a house. At the end of the day, financial problems are that. It is money — it is not life and death. What you need in life is life and love. You can’t have love without life.” The judge went on to say “Your financial situation had got to such a desperate situation there was no way out of it. You decided the only way out was to end both of your lives”.
Police officers who went to the house heard him say to his wife: “Sorry darling, I thought it would be the end of all our problems.” The wife told police officers that her husband was “at the depths of despair”.