A FORMER Shambles market trader, Leonard Webb, who was accused of murdering his wife last April, has been detained in hospital after suffering from depression for decades.

The 69-year-old retired Army major was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court last Thursday having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to the manslaughter of his 64-year-old wife Doreen, a nursery worker.

He was arrested after calling police to say he had stabbed his wife but he denied murdering her at their home in Avondown Road, Durrington.

He was sentenced to a combined restriction and hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

Judge Mr Justice Dingemans said Webb will be not released while he remains a threat to the public.

He told Webb: “You have shown, over the years, that you can cease taking your medication and relapse into very severe depression and that, in that state, you are capable of killing even those most close to you.”

Mr Webb’s mental health problems began after he contracted malaria on a tour of Oman, and while home on leave he made the first of several suicide attempts.

A victim impact statement by one of Webb’s three sons said that they wished for the grandfather-of-six to be treated in hospital rather than sent to a mainstream prison.

Chris Webb said: “This is not to be confused with forgiveness; I just want to make sure my father is on the path to recovery from his depression.”

Webb used to run a stall selling military memorabilia at the regular Tuesday antiques market in the Shambles.

Lt Col Robin Hodges, who previously sold his own books in the Shambles, said: “I did some research on Mr Webb’s military history. As both of us are retired army we tended to gravitate to the same places but I didn’t really know him that well or notice his depression.”

Bill Huntly, who runs a household goods stall, said: “I knew him to say hello to and he always seemed a pleasant sort of chap. I never knew that he was depressed.”

Webb was seen tearfully waving to his family after the hearing before being taken to Fromeside psychiatric hospital in Bristol.