A WIFE-BEATER who sparked an 11-day police manhunt has been put behind bars - after he cut his partner’s neck with an axe when she told him their relationship was over.
Leslie Bowling, aged 44, unleashed a chilling attack on wife Deborah at their home on Badger Close, Woodhouse, ‘rubbing’ the axe blade against her neck before headbutting her.
Sheffield Crown Court heard drunk Bowling ‘taunted’ Deborah and forced her to repeat his name before she managed to escape, fleeing to an elderly neighbour’s house.
Bowling went missing following the attack, and police scoured Sheffield for him for over a week until he handed himself in.
The court heard Deborah has since gone back to her husband - who she says she “loved more than anything”.
Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said the couple had been having problems in their marriage, and argued before Deborah told him their relationship was over.
Bowling went out and returned at about 7pm. “He appeared to be acting slightly oddly, with a strange, glazed look in his eyes,” Mr Thyne told the court.
“There was some argument and further discussion about whether anyone was leaving the house, and the defendant produced a small, black-handled axe from his waistband.
“He brandished the axe in a threatening manner and used the blade to rub against the complainant’s shoulder and her neck, causing some injuries.”
Mr Thyne added Bowling also made ‘unpleasant, threatening remarks’, then headbutted Deborah, causing bruising to her face and cutting her chin.
“He taunted the complainant in a somewhat unpleasant way, asking her to repeat his name,” he said.
Bowling stopped when he heard a car outside and went out of the front door to investigate.
Deborah took the chance to flee barefoot through the back of the house, dropping the axe in neighbour Joan Ward’s garden.
Mr Thyne said Deborah banged on Joan’s door, and after she was let in the two women called the police together.
Bowling went missing but after 11 days handed himself in.
He told police officers he didn’t know anything about the attack - but admitted having ‘umpteen affairs’ and said Deborah was a ‘woman scorned’.
He has previous convictions for crimes including wounding with intent and GBH.
The court heard the couple had known each other for 20 years before they married in January 2009. Deborah has a 14-year-old son from a previous relationship.
Michael Maher, defending, said Deborah visited Bowling up to 15 times while he was on remand in jail.
“It seems there’s a different side to his character,” Mr Maher said, adding Bowling has been working in the prison kitchens while in custody.
“He daily has access to very sharp implements indeed,” he added.
In a statement, Deborah said she could not understand why her husband attacked her in February.
“We were happy before - I can’t work it out,” she said. “I loved him more than anything. I hope he gets some help.”
Deborah said Bowling, who ran a deep-cleaning service, supported her while she struggled with depression and a drink problem.
Mr Maher said Bowling has been hospitalised for 10 days while on remand, and may be suffering from prostate cancer.
Judge Simon Lawler QC, sentencing, said the case was ‘not easy to deal with’.
“This was a sustained assault against a vulnerable victim in her own home,” he said. “In any view, this is a serious matter.”
Bowling was jailed for 30 months with an extended licence period of two years. He admitted causing actual bodily harm, while charges of possessing an offensive weapon and threats to kill were ordered to lie on file.