Guilty of murder

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Helen Gavaghan, Bradford, Crown Court (UK), 25th May, 2018

The jury retired at 1pm this afternoon. By 2.10pm we learned there was a verdict. Unanimously the jury decided the male defendant from Halifax in the UK had murdered his wife. Victim impact statements read to the Court before sentence was passed testify to three children who are beyond bewildered at the shattering of their world in November last year.

The judge, his honour Judge David Hatton QC, said he would pass straight to sentencing, but before doing so his honour rose, leaving press, police, public, counsel and jury scrambling to their feet before he stopped, told the jury they might leave, and that he would pass sentence at 3pm. Judge Hatton did so. With the jury back as witnesses his honour told the defendant the sentence was being passed as the law required for murder. The defendant was handed a life sentence and told he must serve 24 years in prison (less 180 days) before he may approach the Parole Board to apply for early release.

The killing of the defendant's wife was brutal.

Only nine days before the killing neighbours had called police because of noise from their home. The murder victim had declined to give a statement, so police had released the defendant.

The Court heard of marital discord and distress, with the children caught in the crossfire.

In reaching their verdict the jury rejected the defendant's defence of "self defence and loss of control". The defendant told the Court that after his wife was dead he had tried to kill himself. Repeatedly he told the jury he had lost control and could not recall details. Prosecution and defence each presented different accounts of how the knife which caused the victim's death came to be in the defendant's hands.

The prosecution case was that after the murder the defendant had faked loss of consciousness and he had made an opportunity for unwitnessed murder. The defendant had scored various marks on the Glasgow Coma scale for loss of consciousness when assessed by paramedics on the day of the murder.

In directions to the jury his honour made clear the circumstances in which a partial defence of loss of self control may be offered such that it would reduce a murder charge to one of manslaughter.

During testimony the Court heard how the defendant was taken from the scene to Leeds' General Infirmary where he was treated for two days.

After sentencing the defendant, who slumped with his head in his hands when he heard the verdict, the judge thanked the family of the murder victim for their dignity in Court.

Those members of the public who attended the home of the couple on the day of the murder were thanked for their exemplary conduct, as were the first officers on the scene: Police Constables Mark Stanley and Adam Fleming. Detective Constables Rachel Kennedy and Lucy Hill were thanked as family liaison officers. Finally, the judge told the jury of the value of their service.

News published on 25th May, 2018.
Advanced publication of an item for issue 2 (Apr. - June), 2018 of Science, People & Politics ISSN: 1751-598x (online). The names of the victim and defendant were removed on 30th November, 2018 at the editor's discretion and in the absence of any unofficial pressure, family request or formal legal requirement. On publication of the full issue two as pdf and html - before the end of 2018 - the above item will be removed from this website. The publisher has an archived copy of the original news item. In the absence of UK law (as of 30.11.2018) to the contrary the publisher's executors will be requested to destroy that archive on the publisher's death. This is a professional news report by a professional journalist, namely by Helen Gavaghan, a journalist of nearly 40 years experience, current member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists and former candidate (2011/12) to be deputy general secretary of the National Union of Journalist of the UK and Ireland. This policy is to be reviewed by the shareholders of the owning company, Science, People and Politics Ltd. Co.No 0590 1911, of Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598x (online). Science, People and Politics Ltd. Co. No. 0590 19ll is registered in England.
Helen Gavaghan, 30th November, 2018, and modified 5th December 2018.

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