Many tragic stories have come out of the UK’s lockdown – but this is one of the worst.
Anthony Williams, 70, strangled his wife of 46 years, Ruth, 67, with a dressing gown cord five days into the first lockdown.
The retired factory worker chased his wife downstairs and she tried to unlock their front door to escape him. But Williams said he ended up “throttling her to death”.
The court heart how after killing his wife, Williams went to a neighbour’s house and told them to “call the police, I’ve killed her”
He told the police phone line: “She’s dead, I’ve killed her – we had an argument and I’ve strangled her. You have to come straight away.”
‘I just flipped’
“I just 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.”
He said on the scene: “I am sorry, I just snapped, I am sorry.”
Mrs Williams suffered haemorrhaging in her eyes, face and mouth as well as five neck fractures.
Williams admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
Judge Paul Thomas said it was a “tragic case on several levels”, but believed that Williams’s mental state was “severely affected at the time”.
He added: “The overwhelming greatest tragedy here is a lady of 67 who had so much to live for, had her life ended by an act of great violence at the hands, literally, of a man she loved for very nearly 50 years.”
The court heard how Williams had become increasingly anxious about running out of money because he couldn’t access his savings, and had been unable to sleep as a result of his worries.
Williams told interviewers: “I worry about money because I’ve got nothing set up. I always go to the bank and get money out from the teller. I kept on thinking we’d run out of money. Then I started worrying about every little thing.”
Williams’ daughter said watched news about the pandemic “all the time” and was convinced “no-one’s ever leaving the house again”.
Depression and anxiety
Psychologist Dr Alison Witts gave evidence to the court about Williams’ mental state. She said his depression and anxiety was “heightened” by the lockdown measures.
She said “one of his main coping mechanisms” for his “neurotic disposition” had been his factory job.
Witts added: “In 2019, when he left the workplace, that will have also impacted on his mental health having lost all structure and sense of purpose.”
But another psychologist, Dr Damian Gamble, said Williams had “no psychiatric defences”.
He said Williams “knew what he was doing at the time”.
Ruth’s death came as a surprise to the couple’s daughter, Emma Williams, 40, who told the court her parents spent “90 per cent of their time together” and were “not argumentative people”.
She said: “My dad’s a gentle giant.”
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Hmm…
Image via Alamy.