Man who killed wife then went to Costa on verge of tears as he's cleared of murder

Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson -Credit:Facebook

A pensioner who strangled his wife to death then went to Costa Coffee for a cup of tea has been cleared of murder.

Stuart Robertson fatally throttled his partner before placing a crucifix in her lifeless hands, taking a bus into St Helens town centre and handing himself in to the police after "pausing for a cup of tea" at a coffee shop. He told a jury during his trial at Liverpool Crown Court that he that he had attacked his spouse after "feeling a burning anger and rage" when she told him his son was not his.

The 69-year-old was unanimously found not guilty of her murder this afternoon, Wednesday. Robertson appeared to be on the verge of tears as the verdict was returned after two hours and 17 minutes of deliberations.

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He had previously admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter and will be sentenced tomorrow, Thursday. The Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary, who presided over the trial, told him that he viewed his actions as a "loss of control" and added: "Given the nature of the incident and all of the other evidence, it seems that this is an appropriate basis on which to sentence."

The judge also told the jurors: "Thank you very much for the work you have done in this case. It was not a pleasant case at all, but you have discharged your duty with real care and attention."

Peter Glenser KC told the jury of four men and eight women - one of whom was subsequently discharged after testing positive for covid - during the prosecution's opening on Tuesday last week that Robertson had been seen on CCTV withdrawing £500 in cash at a Morrisons Daily store near to the couple's home on Cannon Street in St Helens at around 12.20pm on November 15 last year. Robertson was then captured on camera again shortly after 2.45pm as he boarded an Arriva bus into the town centre.

Wearing a change of clothing, the dark garments he had been seen wearing earlier now replaced by a fluorescent jacket and a bucket hat, he disembarked the service at 3.20pm near to Church Square Shopping Centre then "paused for a cup of tea" at a branch of Costa Coffee. Shortly before 3.45pm, he entered St Helens Police Station and confessed that he had "snapped" and strangled his wife to death after she had been abusive to and shouted at him.

Mr Glenser said: "The police went to the home address. It was well kept, it was neat and it was tidy.

"They found Mrs Robertson unconscious and not breathing. There were no signs of life, but CPR was commenced.

"The ambulance crew arrived and confirmed that she was dead. She was in the living room, lying on the floor on her back covered with a blanket with her hands across her chest and the crucifix in her hands."

A post-mortem investigation subsequently concluded a cause of death of "compression of the neck and strangulation". Under interview, Robertson gave a prepared statement in which he accepted killing his wife but said he had "simply lost control".

Robertson gave evidence to the jury on Wednesday. Wearing a light grey checked jumper and grey tracksuit bottoms in the witness box and sporting a shaved head, he was asked by his counsel Stanley Reiz KC about a series of incidents which had seen the police called to the marital home over the course of several years.

These included an occasion in 2012 in which Mrs Robertson was said to have damaged their front door with a hammer after losing her keys, a drunken argument at their son's home later the same year, an allegation in 2015 that he had "pushed her into a fridge" and another in 2017 stating he had "grabbed her around the throat and threatened her with a butter knife". No action was ultimately taken against either party in relation to any of these complaints.

Robertson described his partner as having been "abusive and aggressive" towards him and said her behaviour "steadily got worse". He told jurors their relationship was "breaking down" in the early part of 2023 and added: "I stayed in my room all day and my wife stayed downstairs, we hardly had any contact."

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