Man tried to kill ex’s friend with knife

The High Court in Edinburgh head Mark Black  left Gillian Petrie covered in blood. Picture: Bill Henry

The High Court in Edinburgh head Mark Black left Gillian Petrie covered in blood. Picture: Bill Henry

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A man tried to murder a friend of his estranged wife after turning up at his spouse’s new home armed with a combat-style knife.

Mark Black left Gillian Petrie covered in blood with a serious wrist injury that had almost severed her hand in a horrific attack.

A prosecutor told the High Court in Edinburgh that Ms Petrie is now permanently disfigured by scars and cannot forget the assault.

Advocate depute Alison Di Rollo said: “She relives the experience of seeing blood coming from her hands like a geyser.”

Black, 42, admitted attempting to murder Ms Petrie, who was aged 49 at the time, on September 15 last year at a house in Burns Wynd, Musselburgh, in East Lothian.

During the assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and impairment he repeatedly struck her with a knife and tried to strangle her.

Black, formerly of Tranent, in East Lothian, also assaulted his estranged wife Pauline during the incident after running up a flight of stairs towards her and kicking at a bathroom door in an attempt to force entry after she barricaded herself in.

The plumber also admitted engaging in a course of conduct that caused fear and alarm to his wife between June 2 and September 15.

Black repeatedly contacted her by email and text messages, turned up at her work, threatened to stop her seeing her children and watched her house.

He had been freed on bail in August last year over an alleged incident with his wife and conditions were attached intended to protect her. The same month he was made the subject of a civil court order banning him from molesting Pauline Black at her home or elsewhere.

Ms Di Rollo said the father-of-five had difficulty coping with the breakdown of his marriage of 23 years after the couple separated in June last year.

The prosecutor said that after the split Mrs Black moved to homeless accommodation in Musselburgh but when her husband found out she was living there she did not feel safe and was re-housed.

She said Black constantly tried to find out where his wife was staying and would sometimes follow her shopping and bombarded her with messages.

He also turned up at her work at a miners’ welfare club and told her; “You’re not getting the kids.”

When he found out where she was living he repeatedly watched her house. One of his children said Black said “he was going to prison soon because of mum”.

Ms Di Rollo said that Mrs Black was left “in a chronic state of fear, alarm and anxiety”.

On the night of the attack Mrs Black was at home with her children and her friend had visited. Ms Petrie left to go home after 1am but found two tyres on her car were flat and it was decided she would stay overnight.

Mrs Black went to bed but her friend stayed up and decided to go into the garden for a cigarette. She opened the back door and cleaned out an ashtray to take with her. But as she walked towards the door Black came through it.

Ms Di Rollo said: “He said nothing, pushed past her and she fell face down on the kitchen floor. From behind her the accused leaned over the top of her and started striking her repeatedly with a knife.”

“The witness describes the motion as a chipping motion as if he was butchering a piece of meat. As he repeatedly attacked her right wrist, she could see the bone exposed.”

“In an attempt to protect herself she placed her left wrist over her right wrist which the accused then struck. Ms Petrie was terrified and in extreme pain.”

“The attack lasted five minutes. Blood was pouring from her injuries and it is estimated she lost half a litre of blood at the scene,” said the advocate depute.

Ms Di Rollo added: “She felt extremely weak and had the sensation of lying in her own blood. She thought she was going to die. She screamed as loud as she could for Pauline.”

During a break in the attack the victim managed to crawl to the house phone and made a 999 call.

Ms Di Rollo said the house was quiet but the victim sensed her attacked was still there and as she lay on the floor felt herself being stabbed in the back and hands were put round her neck.

A neighbour had heard the screams and found Black strangling his victim and a further call was made to emergency services.

Mrs Black was wakened by her friend screaming her name and made her way to the top of the stairs and saw a male figure bounding towards her.

She ran into the bathroom and locked the door and put her back against it. “She was terrified as the male tried to get in, banging and kicking the door with such force that she bounced of the door with each blow,” said the advocate depute.

Police arrived and found the attack victim slumped in a chair covered in blood. Officers gave her first aid as she lapsed in and out of consciousness.

“The heavy blood loss from the severed arteries could have proved fatal had she not received first aid from the initial attending police officers and her initial status was described by paramedics as ‘likely to prove’”, said the prosecutor. She later underwent surgery for six hours.

First offender Black was later detained by police with blood stained clothing and hands and after he was cautioned replied: “Is she alright?”

Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC said: “There are no words of contrition that would be adequate to express the sorrow and regret that he feels.”

The judge, Lady Scott, deferred sentence on Black for the preparation of a background report an he was remanded in custody.