Two love rival dads who moved in together to jointly raise their children after the children's mother died ended up with one stabbing the other.
After Anne Motteram's tragic death from a heart attack at the age of 40, her ex-husband Mark Motteram and her new partner Steve Cook decided to put their differences behind them to raise Anne's four children – three by Mr Motteram, 45, and one by Mr Cook, 37.
The two men vowed to raise the children together as an 'unconventional family'.
But Winchester Crown Court was told that the animosity between them became too great and they eventually went their separate ways – resulting in a 'bitter custody battle' over Mr Cook and Anne's youngest daughter, four-year-old Catherine.
Mr Cook moved to Derby, where he won custody of his daughter on the condition she took four short holidays a year in Southampton.
He dropped her off for her first visit and went straight to Southampton Central Police Station where he told officers he had 'concerns for the children's welfare'.
Annoyed that Mr Motteram had access rights, Mr Cook claimed there was a stash of drugs in the house and no food. It led to police raiding the property, where they found healthy food, a full freezer, and no sign of drugs.
The false allegation angered Mr Motteram, who armed himself with a 4in kitchen knife when Mr Cook arrived to collect his daughter at the end of the week.
Tom Wright, prosecuting, said Mr Motteram lunged at Mr Cook as he opened the door, stabbing him once in the chest, on November 26 last year.
The court heard there was no animosity between the pair at the time Mr Cook started a relationship with Mrs Motteram, but things deteriorated after her death on February 26, 2011.
Mr Wright said: "After Mrs Motteram's sad demise, the children and two men did try making a go of things as a family. Unhappily, the two men did not get on well - friction and animosity led to that situation breaking up.
"The break-up was acrimonious and was exacerbated by the custody battle that then went through the court."
Mr Wright told the court Mr Cook contacted police to report his welfare concerns, and added: "Whatever Mr Cook's motivation, the effect was to further sour Mr Motteram's attitude towards him.
"When he went to collect Catherine at the end of her stay, he rang the doorbell and Mr Motteram immediately lunged at him with a kitchen knife. The knife struck Mr Cook just below the ribs, above the abdomen.
"Perhaps because Mr Cook was on his guard - and expected Mr Motteram to be angry - he was able to grapple with Mr Motteram and get the knife off him as they fell to the ground."
Mr Cook was taken to hospital by ambulance where he was treated for the non-life-threatening wound.
Mr Motteram admitted wounding with intent and was jailed for four years.
An alternative count of attempted murder, which Mr Motteram denied, was dropped.
The judge, His Honour Mr Justice Teare, said: "There are mitigating factors but that does not excuse what you did."
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