A TRAUMATISED West Cumbrian husband jailed after he held a knife to his stepson’s throat later told a doctor that he planned take his own life – and “take his family with him”.

The background to the chilling threat was the break-up of Paul Carruthers’ 16-year marriage and a tragic discovery which had left him with post traumatic stress disorder, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Carruthers had discovered the body of a close relative who had killed himself. The 56-year-old admitted making a threat to kill on December 15 last year.

Kim Whittlestone, prosecuting, outlined the original affray offence for which Carruthers served an 11-month jail term.

It happened in August last year, and involved him arriving at the home of his estranged wife Michelle Carruthers, in Barfs Road, Distington.

Behaving erratically, the defendant armed himself with a knife and at some stage he held it to the throat of Mrs Carruthers’ son Simon Scott.

Carruthers also made a ‘slicing motion’ across his own throat when he saw Mrs Carruthers arrive home that day. Carruthers later told police he had planned to collect documents from the house and then kill himself.

When he was brought to court over the offence, concerns were raised about his mental health by a psychiatrist, the court heard. During a consultation, the defendant told the doctor he planned to get petrol so he could “kill himself, and added that he would “take his family with him,” said Mrs Whittlestone.

“If released, he would do it later that day,” she added, explaining that there was a genuine concern that Carruthers intended to act on the threat.

Peter Wilson, for Carruthers, now of Bolton Street, Workington, said the defendant’s responsibility for the offence was “substantially reduced” by his mental disorder. Medical reports spoke of his suicide threats.

“All this stems from post traumatic stress disorder and it appears to stem from [him] finding a close family member after he had committed suicide,” said the barrister. “It was Mr Carruthers who found him.

“This ultimately led to a breakdown of his mental health.”Mr Wilson added: “He wants Michelle Carruthers to know he’s sorry and he regrets everything he’s done to her and Mr Scott."

Recorder Richard Archer asked: “He accepts that this marriage is over?” From the dock, the defendant was seen to nod in response.

The judge noted that the doctor to whom the threat was uttered took it seriously enough to alert a barrister at court. “Each of those individuals discharged properly their professional duties at all times,” said the judge.

He told Carruthers he had clearly suffered traumatic events which caused his mental health to spiral out of control.

His offending was linked to this. Recorder Archer imposed a six-month jail term suspended for two years. The public could be better protected, he said, if Carruthers was rehabilitated. A jail term could cause his mental health spiral downwards again, said the judge.

Recorder Archer also imposed a five-year restraining order, banning contact with Mrs Carruthers or her son and banning the defendant from Distington.