Maxine Jones, 53, Newport speaks out about her ordeal...
Unlocking the front door, I stepped inside and froze.
The place looked different. Furniture had been switched around, ornaments moved, chairs dragged to different positions…
‘Not again,’ I sighed, annoyed.
This was my husband George’s doing.
‘You’ve been gone ages!’ he raged.
‘I’m sorry,’ I replied. ‘There was a queue at the supermarket.’
I’d only been gone half an hour, but George wasn’t happy about it.
He didn’t like me going out without him. And on the rare occasions I did, he’d time me.
If I was too long, he’d make a huge mess of the house and change things around.
In a ridiculous way, he thought it’d make me hurry back. Stupidly, it worked.
Whenever I went out, I fretted that George would be at home punishing me by causing havoc.
George and I had been married years, and had two grown-up daughters together.
When we’d first met, I was 18, and I’d quickly fallen for his gentlemanly charm. But after we’d tied the knot, things had changed overnight.
George became possessive and controlling. He’d tell me who to be friends with, what I could and couldn’t wear.
If I tried to argue, he’d fly off the handle.
‘You’re too friendly with people,’ George would comment.
He convinced me that I was too trusting, that he was protecting me for my own good.
Over the years, most of my friends ended up drifting away.
‘You don’t need them, you’ve got me,’ George would smile.
I didn’t doubt he loved me. But his possessiveness had become too much.
I lived on tenterhooks, too frightened to argue back.
By 2011, after 29 years of marriage, I’d had enough.
‘I’m sorry, it’s over,’ I told George.
He was furious.
‘We’re married!’ he raged. ‘I don’t care what the courts say, you’ll always be my wife.’
I moved in with one of my daughters, and contacted a solicitor.
Still, George wouldn’t accept it was over.
‘We are not getting a divorce!’ he bellowed.
Eventually, though, George moved out of our house. And, in November 2014, I moved back in while we sorted out selling it.
George made me feel on edge, though.
‘The neighbours are watching you,’ he warned.
It was just lies to scare me, but it was George’s way of maintaining some control.
By March 2015, I was in a happier place. Though still on antidepressants, I was slowly rebuilding my life.
One night, I decided not to take them before bed. They helped me sleep – but, that night, I didn’t think I needed them.
But, as I started drifting off,
I heard a loud thud downstairs.
‘What the.?!’ I spluttered.
Moments later, there was a shattering sound.
I’m being robbed, I panicked.
Petrified, I grabbed my phone to dial 999. But I was shaking so much, I couldn’t get it to work.
In a bid to escape, I made my way downstairs.
As I inched open the kitchen door, I saw a figure climbing through a broken window.
He lunged at me and grabbed my arm. Then he dragged me into the living room.
‘You’re not supposed to be here!’ I cried.
Chillingly calm, George threw me to the floor, then started pouring something around me.
As liquid splashed over me, I got a whiff… Petrol!
George was trying to set the house alight – with me in it!
I fought desperately, but I was no match for him.
When he struggled to light a match, George became frustrated.
So he dragged me back into the kitchen to look for a lighter.
But as I struggled, he put me into a headlock.
The floor was covered in petrol, and we slipped and slid.
‘I’ll clear this mess up and we can forget it happened,’ I begged.
‘It’s too late,’ George sighed, flicking a lighter.
Each flick made me quiver with fright.
Our struggle seemed to last forever.
‘You’re resisting so much, I may cut your throat,’ George said.
He even tried to tie me up with a dressing-gown cord.
Moments later, still caught in a headlock, I saw police appear.
‘Let her go,’ an officer shouted.
Instead, George splashed them with petrol.
Then he released me and fled to the living room.
But the police were hot on his heels, and caught him.
‘Don’t worry, you’re safe now,’ another officer said, helping me out to a waiting ambulance.
It turned out my neighbours had called the police after hearing noises.
In the ambulance, paramedics saw to my feet.
‘They’re cut to pieces,’ I was told.
Sure enough, they were dripping with blood.
I’d been so terrified, I’d not felt any pain when I’d run across shattered glass on the floor.
At hospital, my ripped feet were bandaged.
I was too scared to return home, so I stayed with my daughter.
I couldn’t believe George had doused the house in petrol in an attempt to kill me in a blaze.
If I’d taken my antidepressants, I would’ve slept through it all. The thought sent shivers up my spine.
In April 2015, George Anthony Jones, 58, appeared at Stafford Crown Court.
He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to life, to serve a minimum of seven years 254 days.
Now I’m waiting for our divorce to be finalised so I can make a fresh start.
But I still suffer from post- traumatic stress disorder, and the smell of petrol triggers panic attacks.
I’ll never forgive George for what he did.
He tried to kill me, just because I wanted a divorce. That bully took ‘Till death do us part’ way too far…