Pensioner murdered wife over lockdown fears, court hears

Rod Minchin, PA
·4-min read

A husband snapped and murdered his wife just days into the first national lockdown over worries about coronavirus and money, a court heard.

Anthony Williams, 70, “literally choked the living daylights” out of his wife Ruth, 67, following an argument at their home on the morning of March 28 last year.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr Williams had been struggling to sleep for a few nights that week and was worried about the lockdown, which had been imposed days earlier, and also feared Covid-19.

Matthew Roberts, prosecuting, told the jury that Williams snapped and attacked his wife when she told him to “get over it”.

The attack began in the bedroom and when Mrs Williams fled downstairs, her husband followed.

After the attack, Williams alerted neighbours, who informed the emergency services.

His wife was found slumped in the porch of their home in Brynglas, Cwmbran, Torfaen, with a pair of keys in her hand. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Williams, who is retired, was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and told officers: “I am sorry, I just snapped, I am sorry.”

Williams, of Brynglas, Cwmbran, denies murder but admits manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Mr Roberts told the jury: “The prosecution say in interview the defendant made full admissions to strangling his wife.

“His actions described by him, ‘literally choked the living daylights out of her’.

“It is the prosecution case the defendant made a full and frank confession during the course of police interviews to the offence of murder, ably demonstrated by the answer he gave in the police interview to this question, ‘Are you responsible for the murder of your wife Ruth Williams?’.

“His answer, ‘I am’.”

Mr Roberts went on: “The prosecution say this was a persistent, very determined, very prolonged attack by the defendant.

“The prosecution say quite simply the defendant was a man who knew at all times what he was doing.

“His actions were clear and had one aim – prevent at all costs his wife leaving the house and seeking help.”

A pathologist found Mrs Williams died from pressure to the neck and had also suffered neck fractures.

A dressing gown cord was found in the porch, with the dressing gown upstairs hung up behind the door, which the prosecution suggest may have been used in the attack.

While being driven to the police station, Williams told officers: “I have been depressed lately, I don’t know what’s the matter.

“It wasn’t murder and I didn’t mean to murder her. I just flipped mate, flipped, it wasn’t me. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, it wasn’t me, I’m not like that and I don’t know what came over me.”

During a series of police interviews, Williams was asked to explain events leading up to his wife’s death.

“The defendant said during the night he was tossing and turning as from Monday that week he was having to stay in,” Mr Roberts told the jury.

“Monday that week was March 23, in which lockdown started at 8pm in the evening.

“He was worried about the access to money, his bank account, and he also mentioned the fact he had never been a clothes horse and had got two pairs of shoes.

“Both of them were worried about the virus. The defendant confirmed he did not blame Ruth for any of these worries.”

He told officers Mrs Williams told him to “get over it” and he added: “Perhaps she could have said anything and I would have snapped.”

The prosecutor told the jury that while the Crown did accept Williams had been suffering from anxiety and depression at the time of his wife’s death it did not “substantially impair” his judgment.

“The defendant’s worries, as expressed in interview about money for the bank, pairs of shoes, coronavirus, together with a history of depression and problems with swallowing, amount to some anxiety and depression,” Mr Roberts said.

“They do not, say the prosecution, come even remotely close to being substantial in the sense required to establish diminished responsibility.

“The actions of the defendant that morning – persistent, prolonged and determined – a man who would not stop attacking his wife, upstairs and downstairs until she was dead.”

The trial was adjourned.

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