A Cape Breton man must spend at least 12 years in prison for strangling his wife and hiding her body in the woods, a judge said Wednesday.

Lawrence Peter MacLean, 44, of Scotchtown, was sentenced to life in prison for killing Delores MacLean, 42,two years ago.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joseph Kennedy said MacLeanwould be eligible for parole in 12 years.

MacLean had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in what the prosecutor called a "classic" case of domestic violence.

"I think you could see there was a powder keg situation, and then the last straw, and then this happened," said prosecutor Ken Haley.

In September 2004, Delores was ready to leave her husband after 15 years of marriage. By all accounts, they spent a lot of time fighting and had money problems.

One morning Lawrence strangled Delores, hid her body in the woods not far from the family home and reported her missing.

A hunter found her body about 10 days later.

The court heard that Lawrence said he remembered fighting with his wife, then waking up and finding her dead. He said he didn't call 911 because he didn't want his children to think he killed their mother.

Lawrence apologized in court in front of Delores' family.

In sentencing MacLean, Kennedy said in cases of domestic violence, too many men don't seem able to face the stresses of everyday life.

MacLean 'extremely remorseful': defence

Defence lawyer Alan Nicholson said his client misses his wife and hopes to reconcile with his five children one day.

"Mr. MacLean is very concerned about his children, very close to his children," Nicholson told reporters.

"He's extremely remorseful. I don't think he actually remembers the explosion that took place."

The children, who range in age from eight to 17, live with a relative of their mother's.

Ed Penney, Delores' brother, said the children are doing well but they're "damaged" for life.

Cape Breton police Chief Edgar MacLeod has said he plansto form an anti-domestic violence unit to tackle family violence cases.

He said between the start of the new year andmid-November, the departmenthad responded to more than 800 instances.