North Shields sailor released from mental health unit against partner’s wishes attempted to assassinate him


A Navy sailor attempted to murder his partner by slitting his neck just hours after being released from the mental hospital against his victim’s will.

Michael Rayner had been held in a secure unit for a short time after his mental health deteriorated and he began to hear voices in his head.

The 36-year-old was released on September 18 last year despite repeated protests from his partner that he was too mentally ill.

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Within hours, he had immobilized her on their bed and had slit open her neck, slitting her trachea and missing the major blood vessels by a few millimeters.

As she lay there with an open cut in her throat, he then pinched her nose and put his hand over her mouth and only the hole he had made in her windpipe allowed her to breathe.

The 57-year-old victim and Rayner’s parents blame the decision to release him for the near-fatal attack and an investigation has been opened.

Now Rayner, who suffers from schizophrenia but responds well to treatment at St Nicholas Hospital, Gosforth, Newcastle, has been sentenced to 16 years plus an extended license period of three years, although he is being held in a l ‘hospital until he is well enough to be transferred to prison. He was convicted of attempted murder after a trial.

Newcastle Crown Court has learned that Rayner met her Thai-born partner while she was employed as a masseuse and sex worker. He was first a customer, but then they formed a relationship.

She continued in her job and Rayner helped her advertise her services online and she met clients across the country.

But Rayner, who had abused cannabis from an early age, suffered a significant deterioration in his mental health.

Michael Rayner, who tried to murder his partner in North Shields

In the middle of last year, they moved to Stephenson House, North Shields, for a fresh start.

But his behavior was getting erratic, he told her he was hearing voices and was getting jealous of his sex work.

On one occasion, she was with a customer at their house and he returned in anger, kicking the door and forcing them to flee to a hotel.

On August 28, he was reported missing and was found by police carrying a knife.

He was admitted to a psychiatric unit but was released on September 18 and returned home, where his partner revealed that she was going to stop being a sex worker and wanted to end their relationship.

Rayner decided to go buy some lager and drank it while her partner was going to bed and she blamed him for singing Sweet Caroline out loud.

Rayner got annoyed after trying to run a bath, but found there was no hot water and was verbally abusive of the woman, who told him to go to sleep.

David Comb, suing, said: “At this point he went into the kitchen and picked up a knife, knelt on top of her, used his legs to pin her arms and thighs to the bed.

“He cut her neck, slicing through the muscles, hitting her windpipe and leaving a large gash.”

Despite his terror, the woman reminded him that his family loved him for trying to get him to stop but he continued to slit her throat for about five to ten minutes, even though it seemed longer.

She grabbed the blade, suffering from wounds in her hand, and punched it between the legs and bit her hand in a desperate attempt to stop it.

He then pinched her nose and covered her mouth for 20 minutes and Mr Comb said: “His survival was a matter of pure luck.

“The rupture of his trachea thwarted the suffocation.

“For some reason he withdrew from his murderous state of mind and used a scarf as a makeshift bandage and dialed 999.”

When police arrived at 5:27 am, Rayner, who had blood on his hands and face, was polite and said “hello, come in”.

Her partner lay with life-threatening injuries and the sheets were soaked in blood, which also ran down the wall.

In a victim impact statement, she said she was “lucky to be alive” and would remain marked for life.

She added: “I feel like I was abandoned by the doctors and nurses who let her out of the hospital.

“I told them several times that he was not in good shape and that he should not be released from the hospital.

“If they had listened to me, I wouldn’t have suffered the injuries I suffered.”

She added that she felt sorry for Rayner and added, “I truly believe he needs some kind of help with his mental well-being and I hope he gets it.”

The court heard that Rayner’s father also questioned why he was released from a secure unit without an exit plan last September.

Judge Robert Adams said: “Your father thinks you have been abandoned by mental health services, allowing you to commit this offense.”

Fiona Lamb, defending, said Rayner, who remains on sick leave from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the Merchant Navy, wrote a six-page letter of apology and is remorseful for what he did.

She added that he is a well educated and intelligent man and that his loving parents support him.

Miss Lamb said, referring to her release before the attack: “There is an investigation.

“His parents feel abandoned, it is very difficult for them but the love they have for him will always be there.

“The victim also feels disappointed. If he had had the care he needed, this might not have happened.”

Miss Lamb said Rayner was “very sorry” to hurt “a woman he cared about most in the world”.

He added in his letter: “I hope that in time she and my parents find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

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