Devon woman who fatally stabbed husband of 27 years says he was violent and controlling

<span>After the attack, Rawle removed the knife from her husband’s back and waited for the emergency services to arrive.</span><span>Photograph: Facebook</span>
After the attack, Rawle removed the knife from her husband’s back and waited for the emergency services to arrive.Photograph: Facebook

A woman who allegedly murdered her 72-year-old husband by stabbing him in the back during an argument told police he had been violent, sexually abusive and financially controlling, a jury has heard.

After the attack, Christine Rawle, 69, removed the knife from her husband Ian Rawle’s back, kicked it under a stable door and sat down to wait for the emergency services to arrive, the court was told.

She later claimed that her husband, to whom she had been married for 27 years, was a narcissist who had made her life a misery.

According to Rawle, the couple were arguing over a Devon smallholding that she wanted to sell to pay for a private eye operation, but he was refusing to allow the deal.

Sean Brunton KC, prosecuting, compared the couple, who lived in house set within 8 hectares (20 acres) of land worth £800,000 near Braunton, to characters from Roald Dahl’s book The Twits, describing them as an old “crotchety married couple” who, nevertheless, were “mutually dependent”.

He said both the Rawles used to slap and push each other and exchange insults, but said it had been “six of one and half a dozen of the other”.

Brunton told the jury at Exeter crown court: “We say this is as clear a case of murder as you are likely to find. This defendant, while having an argument with her husband, picked up a large, sharp knife and in a fit of temper stabbed it into his back without any warning, as he was walking away.

“She left the knife sticking into his back and she walked off with her husband following her and imploring her to pull the knife out of his back. Having followed her a distance of approximately 100 yards, down through their fields, he collapsed.

“His wife removed the knife at some point and kicked it under a stable door. She sat down and waited for the police and ambulance to arrive.”

Brunton said police had been involved with both husband and wife over the years and alleged that she had stabbed her husband twice before, once with a knife and once with a fork.

After the fatal attack in August 2022, Rawle allegedly told her daughter on the phone: “I’ve stabbed him … I’m going to prison for the rest of my life.”

Brunton said that rather than trying to help her husband, she began making arrangements about the care of her animals for when she was taken away.

The prosecutor said: “The defence will say that the reason this defendant acted as she did is because she was the victim of a controlling or coercive relationship. In other words, her husband was so nasty, so bullying or so abusive towards her, she was somehow compelled to act as she did.

“If she was a defenceless, timid wife and he physically tortured her, maybe that just might be the case. Or if he constantly and cruelly bullied her and sexually abused her and treated her as some kind of modern-day slave, perhaps you may think the defence may have a point.

“We say that was not the situation here. This defendant was very far from being a defenceless, timid woman. If anyone was the bully, we say it was this woman here.”

Rawle denies murder. The case continues.