Bid to get retired Gateshead cop who killed his wife locked up for longer fails


A bid to get a retired cop who killed his wife locked up for longer has failed.

Former Northumbria Police Sergeant Alan Claxton was convicted of manslaughter after a jury heard how he caused Wendy Claxton to fall down stairs at the couple's Gateshead home. Newcastle Crown Court was told Wendy, 70, who was also an officer with the force before her retirement, suffered injuries likened to those seen in car crashes when she fell to her death at the house in Dunston, in September 2019.

Claxton, 74, claimed Wendy fell by accident, but he was found guilty of causing her death by jurors and jailed for nine years, in February.

Soon after ChronicleLive revealed how the sentence passed by judge Mrs Justice Foster was quickly referred to the Attorney General's Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme (ULS).

Under the scheme victims of crime, members of the public, and the Crown Prosecution Service can ask for certain crown court sentences to be reviewed if they believe they are too lenient. The Attorney General's Office then has 28 days, from the date the original sentence was passed, to decide whether the sentences should be referred to the Court of Appeal to be reviewed.

Wendy Claxton was killed by her husband at their home
Wendy Claxton was killed by her husband at their home -Credit:Northumbria Police

However, the decision has now been taken not to send Claxton's case to the higher court, and his original sentence still stands.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Claxton had been convicted of offences against Wendy in 1991, 1999 and 2001 and there had been numerous other domestic-related call-outs due to his drunken, violent and unpredictable behaviour. And jurors were told how, after killing his wife of 45 years, Claxton took her body upstairs, partly undressed her and put her on her bed in a bid to cover up what he had done and make it look like she died in bed.

But a post mortem examination revealed that Wendy had suffered a broken spine, 19 fractures to her ribs and a severed aorta, which had caused massive internal bleeding.

Retired police officer Alan Claxton was found guilty of killing his wife, Wendy at their home in Gateshead
Retired police officer Alan Claxton was found guilty of killing his wife, Wendy at their home in Gateshead -Credit:Northumbria Police

In jailing Claxton, judge Mrs Justice Foster said: “I’m sure you forcefully manhandled her, pushing her and/or roughing her up as you had in the past and she was propelled with significant force into the newel post and she fell to the floor. She would have been either instantaneously dead or in excruciating agony for such time she survived.”

“You took her body from there and placed it on the bed. You took off her tracksuit bottoms and pants to make it look like she did so, to construct a story she had just died in bed.

“I’m sure you put her on the bed and sought to cover up your involvement in her death. You took no steps to summon help nor did you try to find a pulse or administer first aid.”

The judge said Claxton had “cruelly” lied and sought to claim his wife was drunk. She was not a heavy drinker and post mortem blood tests proved his claim was false. She added: “Your previous history shows a continuous story of violence while in drink.”

Francis FitzGibbon KC, defending, said there is no evidence as to whether it was a “conscious push or shove or a flailing arm” that caused Wendy to fall down the stairs. He said that Claxton had been in the grip of alcoholism for many years and said while it doesn’t excuse what he did, it provides context to it.