A court in St. John's has been told how the life of a well-educated woman fell apart because of alcohol, in a case that led to her stabbing her partner and throwing boiling water on him.

Kathryn Saunders, 47, attended a sentencing hearing at provincial court for her convictions of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

The court was told that Saunders, who has a degree in health sciences, and had worked at Memorial University as a wellness instructor, with responsibilities that included telling students about the hazards of drinking. She also worked with staff at the campus bar on safer-drinking practices.

But alcohol proved to be a career-ending problem for Saunders, who has three convictions for impaired driving and who admitted to giving lectures on safe drinking while hung over.

Saunders, who left the university in 2007, was drunk last Easter when she stabbed her partner, leaving him with a gaping wound and damage to his stomach.

He also sustained burns because she threw hot water at him.

Police often called to house

Court was told that the two had had a volatile relationship, and that police had been called to their house 26 times in a 15-month period, to deal with problems that originated with both of them.

Crown lawyer Jason House said Saunders had committed very serious assaults, and recommended a sentence between three years and four years.

Defence lawyer Michelle Coady, though, said Saunders represents a specific situation, and that she had never been violent in prior relationships.

Coady said that Saunders' drinking escalated after her mother died.

Coady and Saunders both told the court that the counselling and therapy Saunders is now receiving at the provincial women's correctional facility in Clarenville is working, and that a provincial sentence - in other words, one less than two years - would allow her to continue there.

A sentence is expected to be brought down in October.

With files from Glenn Payette