London - An office manager told his wife to cover her eyes for a surprise and counted down from ten before stabbing her in the neck.
Shaun May, 34, made his wife Laura lie on a bed with her face covered with a tea towel and promised her a present, before stabbing her so hard his blade broke.
A court heard that in the moments after the "totally unexpected" attack, Mrs May thought the knife her husband held was a Halloween prop "because I could feel blood trickling down".
She said: "I shouted: “This isn’t real.” He said to me: “This is real”. He sounded so calm."
May later told his wife of 14 months that he had been fired from his job over financial irregularities and did not know how they would pay their mortgage.
He had admitted to the lesser charge of wounding with intent but was found guilty of attempted murder at his trial at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday.
Sitting in the dock, he had given his wife a fleeting glance as she walked into the witness box.
Mrs May, a teacher, said the couple had been together for six years and "really loved each other". She said they would rarely argue, but "would sometimes bicker about the washing up".
Last October the couple had recently returned from a holiday in Korea and, days later, enjoyed a takeaway before going to bed.
May went downstairs in the early hours, telling his wife that he thought he had heard a noise.After returning to bed and engaging in some sexual activity, he said: "I’ve got a present for you. Would you like it?"
Giving evidence, Mrs May said she was expecting an ornate plate or a puppy. "I said ‘‘yes’’ and he told me to close my eyes, which I did. He told me to get on my back, which I did and he placed something over my eyes. I thought it was a tea towel."
She heard him kneeling nearby and heard a "dingling" noise, but did not know what it was. Her mobile phone then vibrated, but May told her to ignore it.
Another ten minutes or so passed while her husband paced around the room. She said: "I started getting fed up and just rolled over but rolled back. He then started counting down from ten two or three times. He never reached zero."
She suddenly felt something clawing at her shoulder, the court heard. She said: “I couldn’t get it off. I thought at first it was a Halloween prop because I could feel blood trickling down.
“I shouted: "This isn’t real." He said to me: "This is real." He sounded so calm.” Taking the towel off, she realised she had been stabbed. May then appeared holding two knives, claiming he was going to kill himself.
He told his wife that he had driven around looking for a high tower to throw himself off because he feared the couple would not be able to pay the mortgage.
He explained that he had been sacked the day before for using a work account to buy items on Amazon. May drove his injured wife to the hospital, where she informed staff that she had injured herself. Mrs May told jurors she broke down in tears when a nurse told her the police had been called, after hospital staff realised she had suffered a stab wound.
According to the prosecution, it was only "by sheer good fortune" that her injuries had not been worse as the knife had gone very near to vital arteries.
May, who did not give evidence, was remanded in custody for sentencing on October 16.