A JUDGE has shown mercy on a carer who slashed his stepfather after the burden of looking after his elderly relatives got too much for him.

Peter Croucher was living with his mother and 81-year-old stepfather at their home in Longdown, near Exeter, when he carried out the attack just after midnight on November 13 last year.

He went into his stepfather’s bedroom carrying a Stanley knife and lashed out at him saying ‘I want to cut you to death’.

He later told police ‘I didn’t do a very good job if he is still breathing’.

Croucher had drunk two bottles of red wine in the seven hours before the attack and was said to have suffered a mental breakdown as a result of the strain of his caring responsibilities.

A Judge at Exeter Crown Court decided not to send him straight to jail after hearing about the strain he had been under.

‘The victim also wrote a statement saying he and his wife have struggled without Croucher’s help since he was remanded in custody in November.

Croucher, aged 53, formerly of Longdown but now living in Tavistock, admitted wounding and was jailed for 15 months, suspended for 18 months by Recorder Mr Mathew Turner.

He was curfewed to his home in Tavistock for nine months, put on an alcohol monitoring tag for 120days, and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community work and 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

He told him: ‘Your stepfather’s victim personal statement says he wishes you to return to the family home to assist them as their primary carer.

‘Your caring relationship got on top of you and there were difficulties which may have exacerbated your drinking and been the spur for you to act out of character that evening.

 ‘The probation report speaks of you as a reasonable man who committed an out of character violent offence.’

Miss Hollie Gilbery, prosecuting, said Croucher started drinking two bottles of red wine at 5pm and carried out the attack just after midnight.

His stepfather described him as being ‘****** as a fart’.

‘The victim suffered slash wounds to his arms and was able to grab a knife to defend himself and police were called.

‘Croucher asked them what he would have got if he had killed his stepfather and said “I wish I’d killed him”.

Mr Michael Brown, defending, said Croucher’s mental health broke down under the strain of his caring responsibilities. He has been assessed as a low risk of re-offending and a good prospect of rehabilitation.

He has already started addressing his drinking by joining an alcoholics anonymous group in prison and has volunteered to have an alcohol monitoring tag fitted.