'Frail pensioner' cleared of murder after beating disabled husband to death

Will Metcalfe
Contributor
A pensioner has been cleared of murder at the Old Bailey after beating her wheelchair using husband to death. Stock image. (PA)

A “frail” 73-year-old woman who beat her wheelchair dependent husband to death with a wooden pole after suffering years of abuse has been cleared of murder.

Packiam Ramanathan went into a trance when she attacked disabled Kanagusabi Ramanathan, 76, as he lay in his bed, the Old Bailey heard.

The defendant, of Burges Road, Newham, east London, denied the murder but had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, citing his bullying and abusive behaviour during their 35-year long marriage.

The Old Bailey had heard how the couple had an arranged marriage in 1983 and had fled Sri Lanka in the civil war.

Paramedics found Mr Ramanathan dead in his bedroom on September 21 last year. Stock image. (PA)

On September 21 last year, paramedics found former shopkeeper Mr Ramanathan dead in his bedroom after the defendant told her neighbour she had hit him.

He had suffered serious head injuries and multiple wounds to the body and neck, with other injuries to his arms and hands from trying to fend off the blows.

A blood-stained wooden stick was found in a cupboard in the hall of the couple’s east London flat.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC had said there had been arguments about money and the defendant had become “very angry” at finding out her husband had written to Sri Lankan police accusing her brother of fraud and theft.

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Giving evidence, the defendant claimed she lost of control after suffering years of bullying and abusive behaviour by her husband.

He allegedly threw sticks at her and subjected her to years of verbal abuse, even accusing her of having an affair with the fishmonger.

Recalling the killing, Ramanathan told jurors: “It was like I was in a trance. I hit him. I do not know. I did not know what I was doing. I could not feel this. I remember him saying don’t hit me. I remember I hit him.

“I lost control at that time. I did not plan anything. I’m not a person who would do such a thing. I don’t know how I did it. For me I still feel like somebody else did it.”

Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, suggested that if Ramanathan had wanted to kill her diabetic husband she could have simply given him a bigger dose of insulin and “no one would have known”.

The jury deliberated for half an hour to find Ramanathan not guilty of murder.

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