Sophie Lea has told how her marriage to Freddie Starr descended from happiness into hell after his arrest on suspicion of a historical child sex attack.

The 38-year-old said the TV comic became an abusive husband who physically and mentally tortured her so badly over time it led to her ­self-harming and left her suicidal.

And after he cruelly told her he would “do the job himself” Sophie tried to kill herself in a desperate bid to escape her nightmare.

In her first interview since Starr’s death aged 76 at his Costa del Sol home last week, Sophie revealed she had to drive herself to hospital with slit wrists because he went to bed.

And as she was still recovering in a psychiatric hospital from a second suicide bid, Starr dumped her ­belongings in a skip and fled to Spain.

Sophie also branded him a “control freak” who would only allow her out of the house to do the weekly shop then accused her of sleeping around.

Sophie Lea has spoken exclusively to the Mirror about her troubled marriage to Freddie Starr

Sophie Lee and Freddie Starr split in 2015 but never divorced

But despite her horror marriage, she is now organising his funeral – so his children can say a final goodbye.

Starr was first arrested in 2012 by Operation Yewtree police after he was accused of groping a teenager and later held three more times.

Mum-of-one Sophie said: “He changed into a different person and lost faith with everything.

“He would wake up in the morning loving you to bits, go for a snooze in the afternoon and wake up hating you.

“He would throw every single bit of vile abuse at me.

“He abused me mentally, emotionally and physically until I broke.

“I would have much rather been hit than have to deal with the constant cruel words. He told me I was ­worthless, that I was absolutely nothing. He was massively paranoid.

“I don’t remember half the things he said because it went from words to being noise. When you are on the receiving end of that abuse constantly every single day there is nowhere to escape.

“I had nobody to turn to. He stopped me leaving the house. I was only allowed to go out to go to Tesco to do the food shop.

“If I was a bit longer than he thought was necessary I would be getting accused of cheating, of s******g every single person. He wouldn’t even let me speak to my son Elliott unless he was present.

“He thought we were sending messages via our eyes. Whenever Elliott came into the room I would have to lower my gaze in case I would get accused of sending secret messages.

“He would get all my clothes and sit there with a knife and rip them all up.

Sophie met Starr in 2010 while working as a singer on his stage show

She claims she was driven to the brink of suicide by Starr’s violent rages

“It was hellish. It’s hard to describe in its entirety of how bad it was. Mentally I was in a mess. I eventually had a breakdown. I was suicidal. I was also self-harming, cutting my arms and legs.

“When he found out he threw a pair of scissors at me and punched me in the thigh. His reaction was, ‘We’re all f*****g depressed but you don’t see me cutting myself.’

“He also said, ‘Go and get me a knife and I’ll f*****g do it properly for you.’

“I ended up thinking, ‘F**k you, you’re not doing it’ and went and slit my wrist. I was upstairs and he was downstairs watching telly.

“I wrapped it up and drove myself to hospital. He went to bed. He couldn’t be bothered to help.

“It was a genuine attempt to take my own life. I wanted out, away from him. The breakdown was because of Freddie’s abuse.”

After her wounds were treated in 2014, Sophie was sent to a psychiatric unit and tried to commit suicide a second time by taking an overdose.

A fortnight later five-times married Starr rang and confessed to butting Elliott, then aged 14, during a row.

She added: “I didn’t realise I had a line, but that was it, the line had been crossed. We didn’t split up because we didn’t love one another, we split up because I had to protect my son.

“It was an impossible situation and impossible decision, but when that happened, it was over.

“That call Freddie made to me was the last time we ever spoke. I hung up on him and rang the police.” Weeks later Sophie was stunned to read in the Mirror that Starr had put his ­Warwickshire mansion on the market and moved to Spain.

She said: “He put all my belongings in a skip outside the house, he threw everything out.

“Freddie literally deleted me and Elliott from his life.”

Sophie says Starr’s body and mind deteriorated after he was caught up in Operation Yewtree

Freddie Starr moved to Spain to die, according to his wife

Sophie said the Operation Yewtree probe destroyed her husband, leaving him “a shadow of the man” she had married. “I think Yewtree killed him.His mind and health just ­deteriorated. I think he gave up. I think he went to Spain to die.

“If Yewtree hadn’t have happened he would probably be alive now and we would maybe still be together.”

She told how Starr initially coped with the investigation but cracked as he was repeatedly re-arrested and questioned. Sophie added: “He just went completely. The strain was too much for him. He stopped existing.

“I had to shower him. I had to do everything. He wouldn’t get changed unless I got the clothes and physically put them in his hands.

“It ended up to the point that I would have to go and wipe his a**e. He couldn’t be bothered. It was easier for him if I did it.”

Sophie met Starr in 2009 while she was performing as a supporting singer during his UK tour.

He later invited her to Warwickshire to work as his personal assistant in his countryside mansion.

Starr suffered a heart attack at home in April 2010 and later had quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Sophie said: “He just calmly came up to me and said, ‘I think I’m having a heart attack. I need to go to the hospital.’ In typical Freddie style he said, ‘I’ll drive because you’re panicking and might crash.’

“So he drove to the hospital in our Audi A8 while having a heart attack. It was surreal but scary. He was more worried about me crashing than he was about having the heart attack.”

After Starr’s heart attack Sophie moved into his home permanently to help care for him.

She added: “Gradually because we were spending so much time together we ended up falling in love. I wasn’t worried about the age gap. Mentally we were the same age as he was a lot younger at heart.

Freddie Starr and Sophie Lea married in 2013

Sophie left her husband after two years of marriage hell

“With Freddie, every moment turned into some sort of joke. He never really took anything seriously. He was a big kid at heart.”

Starr proposed outside a jewellers in April 2011 and they tied the knot two years later. Sophie said he wasn’t a big romantic but “constantly had that look of love in his eyes”.

However, then came the Yewtree arrest and it all changed for Sophie as he spiralled out of control. The couple split in 2015.

Speaking of her decision to organise his funeral, she said: “I had a hellish time with Freddie but there were also lots of good moments too.

“I owe it to his kids to bring him home one last time so they can all pay their respects.”

Sophie tried to divorce Starr but he did not respond to legal letters.

As a result she remains his next of kin and is responsible for repatriating his body back to the UK.

She is finalising the ­arrangements for his funeral in ­Liverpool, where he will be buried alongside his late mum.

Four years on from their split, Sophie is still struggling to recover from the trauma of the marriage.

She said: “I’m still having therapy. I have flashbacks, nightmares. There are a lot of times when I feel like I’ve ruined any possible chance of a happy future because I was with Freddie.”

Sophie, who still lives in ­Warwickshire, said news of his death “still hasn’t sunk in”.

Asked what she would have said to him if given the chance, she replied: “I’d have asked him why.

“Why he did what he did. Why he changed. When you’re in a ­relationship like that, you’ve seen how good and amazing they can be, you are waiting for that to come back.

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RIP Freddie Starr

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