A CALDICOT man is starting a 13-and-a-half-year jail sentence today after admitting attempting to murder his partner in a “ferocious attack”.

Michael Ball, 44, admitted repeatedly stabbing his former wife, Helen Ball, 47, and pursuing her down the street after she fled the house naked and bleeding.

Ball stabbed her 11 times, narrowly missing major organs, and her ordeal only came to an end when three passers-by wrestled Ball to the floor and disarmed him.

Ball, of Sandy Lane, appeared in Cardiff Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, having pleaded guilty to attempted murder of Helen Ball on the day his trial was due to start.

Prosecutor Michael Jones said the couple married in 1997, but Ball became increasingly possessive and jealous and they divorced in 2005, only to reconcile 18 months later.

The court heard on July 30 this year, Mrs Ball returned from her sister’s house and untruthfully told Ball she was seeing another man in order to end the relationship.

Ball left to go to the pub and returned at around 1am, having consumed around 17 pints of lager and taken cocaine.

Mr Jones said Ball went to Mrs Ball’s room and she told officers she expected a row, but he was “shockingly calm”.

Ball then went downstairs before returning with a 15cm carving knife and repeatedly stabbing Mrs Ball.

Hearing her mother’s terrifed screams, the couple’s teenage daughter ran into the room and jumped on her father’s back trying to stop the attack, allowing Mrs Ball to get out of the house, but Ball pursued her.

Bradley Thompson, Timothy Park, and Rhys Jones were returning home along Sandy Lane when they saw Mrs Ball running towards them naked and screaming.

Ball caught up with her and resumed his attack, before Mr Thompson and Mr Jones wrestled him to the ground and Mr Park phoned 999.

Mr Jones said that while Ball was restrained he said: “I’m going to kill her. She’s leaving me.”

Mrs Ball suffered 11 stab wounds, three of which were close to major organs.

In police interview, Ball said he drank around 17 pints and did not remember anything about the incident.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Ball described how she still suffers significant physical pain from her injuries and is on anti-depressants to help her sleep.

She said: “This will affect me for the rest of my life.”

She said she feared Ball would come after her when he is released from prison, and that she has nightmares.

Representing Ball, HuwWallace said he showed genuine remorse, but has “absolutely no recollection” of the incident.

Mr Wallace said: “He is appalled at the way he behaved. If he could turn the clock back, he would.”

Mr Justice David Lloyd Jones said “This was a sustained attack involving the pursuit of the victim down the street where the attack continued. It was a particularly purposeful and ferocious attack.”

Ball was jailed for 13 years six months, less the 127 days he has spent on remand. A restraining order banning Ball from contacting or approaching Mrs Ball indefinitely was also made.

Praise for rescuers

THE judge paid tribute to Bradley Thompson, Rhys Jones and Timothy Park, who came to Mrs Ball’s aid, saying she owed her life to their intervention. He ordered that the three men should each receive £250 for their efforts and said he would speak to the appropriate authorities about commending their bravery.

DC David Trew, of Gwent Police, said: “This was a violent and terrifying attack for the victim and our thoughts remain with her.

After today’s sentencing, I hope she is now able to gain some closure. I would like to thank the members of the public who came to her assistance on the night.

They showed immense bravery and without their intervention the outcome could have been very different.”

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Trio deserve commending

WE applaud the action of three men who undoubtedly saved the life of a Caldicot woman as she came under a ferocious attack from her knife-wielding ex-husband. With no thought for their own safety and at grave risk of injury, Bradley Thompson, Timothy Park and Rhys Jones rescued Helen Ball from her crazed partner Michael Ball.

They thoroughly deserved the praise they received from the judge in the trial of Ball, Mr Justice David Lloyd Jones.

He told the court Helen Ball owed her life to the actions of the trio, who were also praised by police. The mother had been forced to run into the street to try to get away from Ball, who had launched his knife attack on her as she lay in bed.

It seems the three men returning home from a night out did not think twice about coming to her aid. Two of them wrestled Ball to the ground before managing to disarm him.

It must have been a terrifying incident for them all. But all credit to them they got involved where we fear many others these days might have chosen to turn a blind eye.

They deserve to be commended for their bravery.