A spurned husband was stabbed in the heart by his estranged wife's new flame in a tragic love triangle.
Timber yard worker Hugh Cushnaghan, 64, of Montgomery Street, Irvine, Scotland, has been jailed for five years after admitting the manslaughter of dad Steven Whitney, 50.
Mr Whitney was stabbed with a 12 inch knife as the pair fought in an alleyway behind Fishwick Parade in Preston.
Preston Crown Court heard five days before Christmas the victim turned up at his wife's terraced home at around 5am, realised his wife Jane was in the house with her lover, and armed himself with a baseball bat.
Cushnaghan had got dressed and tried to sneak out of the back door with his holdall to avoid a confrontation, but then saw Mr Whitney trying to get through the alleygate.
As the pair fought Cushnaghan pulled a knife from his holdall.
During a 999 call made by Jane Whitney, Cushnaghan was heard to shout: "I've stabbed you."
A neighbour witnessed Mr Whitney walking from the alleyway onto nearby Nimes Street and collapsing to his knees.
He was pronounced dead in the Royal Preston Hospital at 7.08am and a pathologist later found the knife had penetrated between two ribs, through his lung and heart and full length of his body.
The court heard Jane Whitney had made out she was separated from Steven - who she says had been violent to her, and had lived in a refuge in Preston for a short time.
But the couple were still married, albeit living apart, and the court heard she was still "encouraging" the relationship - while at the same time "encouraging " the relationship with Cushnaghan.
Judge Pamela Badley said: "This is a case which is a tragedy for two sets of families. I bear in mind the loved ones of everyone concerned and the outcome is something that is going to result in deep unhappiness because it is impossible for a court to put matters right in terms of their loved ones.
"The clock cannot be turned back and all the court can do is to disentangle the myriad of causes to what happened and to attempt to do the right thing and achieve a just result."
"He was her estranged husband and as is often the case, human emotions have led to conflicting thoughts, relationship directions, and I understand deeply that in looking at the way the heart moves, from an outsiders point of view, it is almost impossible to understand the direction of human emotions.
"It does appear there hadn't been a clean break between Mrs Whitney and her husband. Mr Whitney had been under the impression she was staying with her sister. He suspected she was not and series of texts were exchanged.
"At the time the knife was used violence was clearly intended - self defence has not been pursued."
Defending, Richard Orme said: "The picture painted by Jane of the state of her relationship with her husband Steven was a picture that perhaps acted as some form of encouragement to the relationship with the defendant, but perhaps was not the entirely accurate picture.
"While one understands extra marital affairs are confusing, inevitably there was an element of Mrs Whitney being uncertain in her mind as to which path to follow."
Hugh Cushnaghan, 64, admitted manslaughter on the basis he had lost control in the heat of the moment.
Prosecuting, Gordon Coles QC said he had driven away from the scene and was arrested in his Ford Mondeo just after junction 34 of the northbound M6. When booked into the police station he was told Mr Whitney had died to which he replied: "I'm really sorry."
Cushnaghan had met Mrs Whitney when she was caring for his elderly sister Margaret, who lives in Preston.
Cushnaghan wiped tears away in the dock as a statement was read from Steven's sister Denise Black, which said: "It cannot be understated how much of a loss he is to us all."
Mrs Whitney was made to sit separately from families of the victim and defendant as the heated proceedings took place.