AN ABUSED wife gave a court her own powerful description of how the behaviour of her controlling and suspicious husband drove her to the brink of suicide.

Heather Pantin read her victim impact statement at Carlisle Crown Court after her estranged husband admitted stalking her and subjecting her to coercive and controlling behaviour over 27 traumatic months.

Neil Pantin’s behaviour drove her out of her home, leaving her so crushed that she made an attempt on her own life, prosecutor Gerard Rogerson told the court.

“His relentless behaviour left me feeling like there was no way out,” Mrs Pantin told the court.

Mr Rogerson outlined how the defendant’s controlling behaviour happened between August 2017 and May of last year; and the stalking between May 19 and November 15 last year. His behaviour got progressively worse after she became a police community support officer, which he was not happy about.

In one incident, he threw a bowl full of cereal and milk all over her. “She describes being physically sick in the bathroom with fear,” said the prosecutor.

“He became more controlling and aggressive. He was constantly checking where she was, constantly ringing her, and keeping a close eye on her movements, controlling what she wore; controlling who she associated with; checking her phone; and on one occasion leaving a phone recording on the mantlepiece while she was in the house.”

He reacted furiously when she asked him to leave her alone as she took a bath and he then saw her pick up her phone, said Mr Rogerson.

After she left home with their children, he appeared uninvited at her new home and ranted at her for five hours, the court heard. She later realised her best underwear was missing.

Mr Rogerson said: “She rang him to ask where the underwear was and he told her: ‘I’m taking it because you’re not wearing it for another man.” Pantin bombarded his estranged wife with calls and texts.

“Things came to the point where she felt she could no longer take this level of controlling behaviour,” said Mr Rogerson. “She felt the only option available to her to end the harassment was to take her own life.” Fortunately, her colleagues found her in time.

Yet even after this, Pantin, of Manor Road, Upperby, continued to harass her and accuse her of seeing other men. She was left suffering night terrors, and would wake up screaming.

In court, at times weeping, Mrs Pantin said: “Neil doesn’t have to be violent to have control; to win, and to inflict pain on me and make me feel as small and as insignificant as I do.” A month after they moved in together, she felt scared and trapped.

She said: “Slowly, I stopped going out, stopped going to the gym; the clothes I wore were different: I chose clothes that covered me up, were looser; I automatically said no to night outs with friends. I’d become conditioned to make those choices. My life became about Neil.”

Jeff Smith, for Pantin, who married his wife when she was 18 and he was 28, said he felt his behaviour was “misconstrued” as coercive but he now accepted the relationship was over. “Until November, Mr Pantin hadn’t come to terms with the end of the relationship.

“He said he placed her on a pedestal and adored her. He could not believe somebody as attractive as her would find him attractive.” Pantin was under pressure from his relatives to keep the family together, said the lawyer.

Jailing Pantin for 27 months, Judge Peter Davies said he subjected his wife to persistent controlling behaviour throughout their marriage, suspecting infidelity simply because she was attractive - despite there being no evidence of this. When she left home with their children, he continued his obsession with her, harassing her so much that he was arrested for the offence he later admitted.

He harassed her so much he was arrested and cautioned - yet he breached his bail conditions by contacting her 13 times, said prosecutors.

“Despite being on bail you bombarded her with texts,” continued the judge. “The texts and calls continued to such an extent that in July, 2019, she tried to take her own life. She lost two and a half stones; she lost her self-respect; her hair thinned and her skin flaked. She spent three weeks in the Carleton Clinic [a mental health hospital].”

Even after this, said the judge, Pantin showed no remorse. He simply contacted his wife and accused her of looking for another man. “This was continuous, intimidating behaviour,” said the judge. “You controlled her and her behaviour.”

Judge Davies praised Mrs Pantin’s courage in addressing the court.

He added: “There was no violence. That’s not the point of this offence: it’s the psychological trauma it causes: it ‘s significant, it’s intense, and its prolonged.” The defendant was banned from contacting Mrs Pantin and her relatives for a decade.