Pensioner, 77, is spared jail for strangling his wife of 61 years

Pensioner, 77, is spared jail for choking his wife of 61 years, 76, until she could barely breathe after he snapped under the pressure of caring for her single-handed

  • Michael Fentem, 77, beat and kicked his wife Dorothy, 76, over eight months 
  • The couple from Bury, Manchester wed at 16 have been married for 61 years
  • Dorothy vowed to stand by her husband, saying: ‘It’s all my fault he wouldn’t be like this except for me’

A 77-year-old pensioner is spared jail for beating and kicking his infirm wife of 61 years, after snapping under the pressure of caring for her single-handed.

Michael Fentem strangled his wife Dorothy, 76, until she could barely breathe and stuffed clothes and tissues into her mouth to stop her wailing. 

The retired factory engineer also kicked Dorothy, who suffers undisclosed health issues, so hard that he broke her toe, Manchester magistrates court heard.

Fentem, from Bury, Greater Manchester, would drink heavily and lose his temper as he single-handedly looked after his wife of 61 years.

Michael Fentem, 77, (above) kicked and beat his infirm wife Dorothy, 76, over eight months after snapping under the pressure of caring for her single-handed in Bury, Manchester

Police were alerted on May 18 after paramedics were called to the couple’s home after a report that Mrs Fentem had fallen over and hurt herself. 

She told officers she had been repeatedly attacked by her husband over the previous eight months. 

Fentem was arrested and taken to the police station where he said he didn’t have a drinking problem but said it ‘fuels the fire’. 

Mrs Fentem, who is standing by her husband, told police: ‘It’s all my fault he wouldn’t be like this except for me.’ 

Fentem, who admitted assault and controlling behaviour, broke down at Manchester magistrates court as he apologised to his wife, who watched from the public gallery.

He said: ‘I have thought about it every day and I’m just disgusted with myself and sorry I ever did it. 

‘I don’t think the support will ever be enough although they are helping me now and taking notice.

‘I have to do everything around the house and care for my wife. I’m not trying to blame anybody else for what happened. I did it, I’m guilty and I shouldn’t have done it.’

Mrs Fentem, who has been married to her husband for 61 years, said she is standing by him, telling police ‘It’s all my fault he wouldn’t be like this except for me’

The couple, who married at age 16 and have a son together, are now being supported by carers from adult social services. 

Paul Sumner prosecuting said: ‘She told them he had kicked her previously causing her to have a broken toe and she went on to say she didn’t know what to do about it as she still loved him and didn’t want to give a statement to police.

‘She said she was frightened when he kicked off and she was frightened, he might kill her.’ 

He added that during the most recent incident, Fentem had shaken his wife ‘by the neck in bed’ and slapped her arms. 

Mr Sumner added: ‘He was asked about his wife’s reaction and he said she had told him he needed help saying: “don’t hurt me Mike, please, please Mike”.

‘He was asked if he had covered her mouth and he said: “I usually use my hand to cover her mouth but last night I may have used a pillow”.’

The officer reportedly noted that the defendant showed remorse and was ‘very emotional about it’ but the victim did not wish to provide a formal statement.   


The couple, who married at age 16 and have a son together, are being supported by carers from adult social services, as Fentem was given 26 weeks jail suspended for 12 months

In mitigation, defence lawyer Miss Lorna Wincote said: ‘On the whole they have had a really happy, loving marriage but Mrs Fentem struggles with health issues and they have been left alone to deal with that.

‘He is 77, he is retired gentleman with a lot of responsibility at a time in your life when that wouldn’t usually be the case. 

That amount of pressure has been too much and has resulted in this horrible scenario where we have got a marriage of this duration, a man with no previous convictions and a lady struggling with her health before the magistrates court.’ 

Fentem was given 26 weeks jail suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation requirement days and pay £207 in costs and surcharges.

JP Wallen Matthie told him: ‘You certainly need some help and assistance and it is good to hear social services are involved. You need to seek help and make sure that you get as much as possible.’

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