M Real Lives: He Was a Loving Husband, and Then He Tried to Murder Me; Lynne Murray, 41, Has a Degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice, So Why Did She Fall in Love with - Then Stand by - a Violent Man Who Tried to Kill Her? This Is Her Story
Byline: SARA NEVILLE
When I first met Mark Nalton I wasn't looking for love. Since my divorce I'd spent five years on my own and was happily juggling bringing up my three kids and studying for my degree. Then Mark and I were introduced in a pub by a mutual friend.
"He was a burly builder, 6ft 4in tall and tattooed from head to toe, including his knuckles - he wasn't my type at all. But when he tentatively asked me if I wanted a drink he seemed softly spoken and gentle. We chatted and he appeared to be friendly so I gave him my number. He phoned a few days later and asked me on a date. I was busy packing boxes as I was in the middle of moving, Mark offered to come round and help and we soon became inseparable.
"He was everything I'd ever wanted in a man. We could sit and talk for hours about anything and everything. We were similar in so many ways - from our musical tastes to our outlook on life.
"He wasn't formally educated but he was intelligent. He'd help me with my university assignments and even gave me the idea for one of my major projects. It seemed a waste that he'd never furthered himself but his childhood in a Yorkshire village had been traumatic. He told me his brother had abused and bullied him terribly and I found out later that he'd got married and divorced young.
"Underneath his intimidating shell, the real Mark seemed as soft as marshmallow. Though he was quite introverted, the few people who knew him liked him. He was a joker, always playing around and trying to get me laughing. My children, Ian, 20, Sarah, 18, and Lewis, 10, adored him too and, just two
months after we'd met, he proposed to me on my birthday. I said yes straight away and Mark moved in. Having been on my own for so long I knew what I wanted from a relationship and I'd found it.
"It was only five months after we met that we married, in January this year. We went to stay in a wonderful hotel in Plymouth for our honeymoon. I felt utterly in love and as we sipped champagne on the four-poster bed. My only regret was that I hadn't met Mark years earlier.
"Back at home, we soon settled into a routine. I was still flushed with happiness, but Mark showed signs of becoming irritable and argumentative. Over an evening meal with friends one Saturday night in April I happened to mention that we were considering trying for a child together. After our friends left he blew up into a rage. He was furious I was telling friends aboutour private business. His reaction seemed extreme but it made me question myself. Had being single so long made me thoughtless and selfish?
"The following night we went out for a drink with other friends. Returning home in a taxi, Mark announced in front of the others that an acquaintance of mine who'd been sitting with us had stroked him between the legs.
I could barely believe what I was hearing. I told him he should have either told the girl to stop or not told me about it at all. Back at home, Mark continued to press the subject, urging me to ring the girl and have it out with her. I was adamant that I wouldn't. But even in bed he wouldn't let it drop. It was as though he was determined to provoke me. Angry, tired and frustrated, I told him I'd leave him if he carried on as he had been and went downstairs to make a cup of tea.
"Switching the kettle on, I felt Mark's presence behind me. I swung round as he began shouting that I wasn't to go anywhere. I was confused by his reaction as I clearly wasn't intending to leave at that time of night. The next moment he was strangling me. I don't know how long it went on for before I passed out.
"All I remember is the searing pain across my head as I hit the floor. When I came round Mark's face was looming over me - for a split second I thought it was morning and that he was leaning over to give me a kiss. Instead, he was pummeling my face with his fists. I don't know how or why but he eventually stopped and let me escape. …