Family can now ‘grieve properly’ after inquest

Ministry of Defence undated handout photo of Lance Corporal Leslie Metcalfe, 23, from Liverpool whose inquest took place today.
Ministry of Defence undated handout photo of Lance Corporal Leslie Metcalfe, 23, from Liverpool whose inquest took place today.
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THE STEPFATHER of serviceman Leslie Metcalfe, who was fatally stabbed by his partner in an act of self defence, said his family ‘did not seek retribution’ when they attended an inquest into his death.

Lance Corporal Metcalfe, 23, who was based at RAF Honington, died after being fatally wounded by his girlfriend during a struggle at her home, in Poplar Close, Honington.

The inquest at The Athenaeum, in Bury St Edmunds, heard that Nicola Herschell feared for her life and that of her child’s when Mr Metcalfe became violent and brandished a knife at them in the early hours of March 16.

In police interviews read out by Detective Inspector David Giles, Miss Herschell, 23, said L/Cpl Metcalfe had returned to her home following a night out drinking at the Corporal’s Mess on base. He was about three times over the drink drive limit.

He switched off the electricity, turned violent and attacked her while brandishing a knife from her kitchen.

As she asked him to stop, her two-year-old son Ryan woke up and started crying.

L/Cpl Metcalfe, of 1st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment, held the knife two to three inches from his head and told him to ‘shut up’.

Miss Herschell pushed his arm away from Ryan and a struggle ensued with him holding her by the throat with one hand while wielding the knife with the other. After wrestling the blade from him, he squeezed her throat with both hands and she jabbed him with the knife. L/Cpl Metcalfe then ran outside the house.

Neighbour Daniel Plummer said he heard a woman screaming words to the effect of ‘leave me alone’ and ‘get off of me’.

L/Cpl Metcalfe, who was from Bootle, in Liverpool, received surgery at West Suffolk Hospital before being transferred to Papworth Hospital, near Cambridge, where he was pronounced dead at 10pm the following day.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had three stab wounds and the main cause of death was a stab wound to the heart.

Miss Herschell was arrested and on July 29 it was decided she would not face any charges.

She told police there had been ‘previous incidents of violence where he had been drinking alcohol’.

Coroner Peter Dean recorded a narrative verdict that L/Cpl Metcalfe died from stab wounds inflicted in self defence in a struggle in which the other person feared for her life.He said: “It’s clear alcohol played a part in the tragic events of that night. There’s no suggestion his behaviour was in any way difficult or problematic the rest of the time.”

After the inquest, L/Cpl Metcalfe’s stepfather, Joseph Sweeney, said: “We’re all deeply upset about what’s happened to Leslie. We would like to thank the military and the police. It’s been a long process. We didn’t come to seek retribution. We just wanted it to be over and we can grieve properly.”