A HUSBAND who tried to batter his wife to death with a hammer yesterday (Thursday, November 22) had his sentence cut on appeal.

Iain Hardy, 40, of Faverdale Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 12 years at Teesside Crown Court in June, for what the trial judged called a "cold and calculating" attempt to kill.

But yesterday he won a two-year cut to his sentence after judges at London's Court of Appeal ruled that he had not received enough credit for an early guilty plea.

Hardy had been classmates with his wife Danielle in the 1980s and they met again after a 20-year absence through website Friends Reunited in 2008, marrying shortly after.

He had told her a series of convincing lies about his personal and work life in the short time they had been together.

Hardy left his 40-year-old wife "alone, destitute and humiliated" after launching a completely unexpected attack on her at their home on March 19, Lord Justice McCombe said.

The judge said: "At the time, Mrs Hardy was working on the family computer trying to get access to bank account details when she felt a blow to the head. She was shocked when she turned around to find the appellant standing there with a hammer in his hand."

The judge said Hardy hit his wife again on the head and the wrist before stopping the assault with a two-and-a-half pound lump hammer he had previously taken from the garage and hidden in the study.

Lord Justice McCombe said Hardy had appeared instantly apologetic and tried to get his wife medical help, saying "let's get you to hospital."

Mrs Hardy suffered two cuts to her head and needed seven stitches to the wounds, which left life-long scars.

Yesterday Hardy's counsel, Paul Newcombe, told the Court of Appeal his client had "snapped" owing to debts.

Appealing the sentence, Mr Newcombe said: "The judge failed to give significant credit for a plea of guilty and the instant, deep and genuine remorse and the stress which caused him to snap.”

Lord Justice McCombe said Hardy had initially failed to indicate a plea when he appeared at a preliminary hearing on June 11 via video link, despite a request by the judge and his legal team that he appear in person.

On sentencing Hardy on June 29, Judge Peter Fox said the first hearing had been a "simple and straightforward" chance to enter a plea and refused to grant Hardy full credit for an early guilty plea, Lord Justice McCombe said.

The judge, sitting alongside Mr Justice Foskett and Mr Justice Eder, allowed Hardy's appeal, accepting that a greater discount should have been given, when balanced against the aggravating factors.

Lord Justice McCombe said: "The sentence was excessive.

"We say with some hesitation, as this was clearly a very nasty attack on Mrs Hardy.”

Hardy will serve half his new ten-year sentence before qualifying for automatic release.