A “cold-blooded” man who carried out a drug-fuelled three-hour assault on his wife has been jailed for seven years.

Robert Hillyard carried out the three-hour attack and told her “he might as well kill her”, Southampton Crown Court heard.

The 40-year-old hit her with a knife and a piece of wood, fracturing her left eye socket and leaving her with bruises all over her body and needing eight stitches inside her mouth, the court was told.

A judge described the attack as brutal and vicious as he jailed Hillyard, who the court heard had tried to kill himself the night before he was sentenced for his crime.

At the time of the incident, on May 26 this year, Hillyard had been drinking and was under the influence of amphetamine and cannabis the court was told.

His wife told police it was not the first time her husband had assaulted her, but she now felt he should go to prison.

Prosecutor Ellie Fargin described how the couple, from Taunton, in Somerset, were staying with relatives in Somerset when an argument broke out.

Over the course of the next three hours Hillyard hit his wife on the hands and arms with a piece of wood, then made stabbing motions at her with a bone-handled knife. He told her that if the police became involved he would break her neck and that he “might as well kill her”.

Finally she managed to escape the house and police were called, but she told officers Hillyard had continued to punch and headbutt her outside.

Jailing him for seven years, Judge Peter Ralls QC noted that Hillyard had previously been in prison for assaulting his wife but told him: “That didn’t stop you taking a brutal and vicious attack.”

A pre-sentence report said that Hillyard would pose a high risk to any wife or partner and described him as “cold-blooded”.

In mitigation, defence barrister Richard Griffiths told Judge Ralls that Hillyard suffered from an abusive childhood and was keen to rehabilitate himself.

He added: “He is truly remorseful and he has cried himself to sleep almost every night.”