Friday, February 26

Calls for review of five-year prison sentence for man who strangled his wife in Wales | Welsh


The attorney general is under increasing pressure from MPs and activists to ask the appeals court to reconsider the sentence of a man who strangled his wife days after the first coronavirus lockdown.

Anthony Williams, 70, was sentenced to five years in jail in Swansea crown court on Monday after he was found not guilty of murder, but admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The judge, Paul Thomas, said it was a “tragic case on several levels”, but in his opinion, Williams’ mental state was “severely affected at the time.”

On Friday, Labor MP Harriet Harman said she would write to the Attorney General for England and Wales, Suella Braverman, asking her to refer the case to appeal as unduly lenient sentence. Labor MP Jess Phillips said she would also join calls for the sentence to be reviewed.

Ruth Williams, a retired supermarket worker, was found slumped with a set of keys in her hand on the porch of her home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on the morning of March 28 last year.

An autopsy found that his neck was fractured in five places and he had suffered bleeding from his eyes, face and mouth, consistent with strangulation. His cause of death was given as pressure on the neck, and a pathologist said the lack of a ligature mark did not rule out the use of a “soft” robe cord that was found in the couple’s home.

During his trial, the jury heard that Williams had admitted to detectives that he “literally drowned the light of day” on his wife. He said he had found the lockdown “really difficult” just five days after restrictions across the UK and was feeling depressed, telling police that he had attacked his wife after she told him to “get over it” .

Dr. Alison Witts, a psychologist, said in the trial that Williams’ anxiety and depressive illness were “intensified” by the coronavirus measures and affected her ability to exercise self-control. But another psychologist, Dr. Damian Gamble, said that Williams had no documented history of depressive illness and had no “psychiatric defenses” available, and said he believed Williams “knew what he was doing at the time.”

Activists against domestic violence have expressed concern over the ruling. A spokesperson for Welsh Women’s Aid said the service had seen a surge in demand during the Covid pandemic, adding that the virus and the lockdown should not be used to justify or excuse abuse.

“We are shocked by the leniency in this case and a precedent should not be set that would allow domestic homicide to be an inevitable result of the current restrictions,” the spokesperson said.

“Domestic homicides often follow years of coercive abuse and control and it is vital that this is understood by everyone in our justice system.”

Harriet Wistrich, director of the Center for Women’s Justice, said the ruling uncovered “deeply ingrained discriminatory attitudes,” adding: “It is clear that women who resist male violence are punished more severely, while those who resist male violence. men who strangle their wives to death. ” for no apparent reason they are just ‘tragic’ figures ”.

In sentencing, the judge said: “The most overwhelming tragedy here is that of a 67-year-old woman, who had so much to live for, whose life ended in an act of great violence at the hands, literally, of a man whom he loved almost completely. 50 years.”

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www.theguardian.com

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