PRESTON, England, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A British court gave a 69-year-old man a suspended sentence despite his guilty plea to charges he attempted to poison his wife, court officials said.
The Daily Mail said Preston Crown Court Judge Robert Brown allowed William Dowling to walk free Friday. Dowling had admitted to lacing his wife's tea with mercury in an attempt to make her ill.
Brown sentenced Dowling to 350 days in jail, suspended for two years.
"That was not only a wicked way to treat your wife, it was also potentially fatal," the judge told Dowling. "Fortunately your plan was discovered before any serious harm had been caused."
Dowling's attorney, Paul Lewis, maintains his client had simply wanted his estranged wife Maureen, 64, to become ill enough so he could take care of her and improve their relationship.
The Daily Mail said the case came to the attention of the police after Dowling's wife, who experienced headaches and memory loss due to mercury consumption, noticed silver globules in her tea.