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John Martin found guilty of murdering Natalia Strelchenko

Natalia Strelchenko Credit: ITV Granada

A classical musician has been found guilty of murdering his world renowned concert pianist wife after beating and strangling her to death.

Norwegian national John Martin, 48, showed no reaction at Manchester Crown Court as he was found guilty of killing 4ft 11ins tall Natalia Strelchenko who was found with serious head and neck injuries at their home in Newton Heath, Manchester, on their second wedding anniversary.

Martin was cleared of the attempted murder of a male youth who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Martin stood in the dock wearing a grey pin-striped suit over a grey-and-black striped, open-neck shirt as the foreman of the jury of six men and six women read out the verdicts.

He was led away by security guards.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cox, thanked the jury - which had been deliberating for just over a day - before saying the defendant will not be sentenced until next week.

During the trial, a friend who had been staying at the couple's home described how the double-bass player flew at petite Ms Strelchenko - who was also known by the surname of Strelle - "like an animal", throwing both himself and wife down the stairs before delivering repeated punches to her body.

When the female guest pleaded with him to stop, Martin, a computer science and maths graduate who had worked for computer giant IBM was to say: "I want to kill her".

"Controlling" Martin had claimed that he had no recollection of the killing after taking a mix of alcohol and diazepam which he said he had mistaken for his anti-depressant medication.

When police arrived at their home in Culcheth Lane on August 30 last year, Martin repeatedly said "kill me, kill me please, I have nothing to live for, I do not deserve to live" which was caught on an officer's bodycam.

Ms Strelchenko, who had attended the prestigious St Petersburg State Conservatory in her homeland, died a short time later in hospital.

She had 76 injuries including 45 separate marks to her head and neck having suffered repeated blows to the front of her face.

Her central and left-sided facial bones were left free floating from the rest of her skull and her jawbone was snapped in half. Parts of her skull were left severely fractured.

Jurors had been told that hours earlier, Ms Strelchenko had texted her ex-husband to say "we are having bad times here with John Martin".

The pianist who at the "peak of her powers" had performed in concerts with a full orchestra, had also disclosed that she was scared of her three-times married husband who had allegedly tried to strangle her whilst driving.

The trial had been told that the police had been called out to their home on two occasions following arguments between the couple, and that Martin "couldn't live with her, couldn't live without her".

The Crown said that Martin, who began the relationship whilst he was still married, had been "jealous" of her career taking off whilst his did not and said he had felt like her "servant".

On the evening of August 29, the couple - who were said to have had a volatile relationship and would row about Ms Strelchenko's lack of household chores and financial contributions, had rowed again.

Classical music producer Arne-Peter Rognan who had been a guest at the house said that Martin had "exploded" in front of the group of musicians after arriving with #20 worth of food for a barbecue, only to learn that his wife had already prepared food.

Martin, was to tell Mr Rognan that he had been "afraid" of what he could do during one of their explosive arguments, saying:

I don't know what I can do if she drives me any more crazy. I'm afraid that when I explode I don't know what will happen.

– John Martin

But added that he would get help in the coming week.

The defendant had also texted:

"she drives me crazy and it has to be stopped when it happens".

– John Martin in a text

After drinking around four cans of cider Martin left the house before returning at around midnight after learning that Ms Strelchenko had advertised the address on a property exchange website for people who wanted to swap homes for short periods.

He claimed he had no memory of pushing her, falling down the stairs or of the struggle that followed.

A consultant psychiatrist for the defence told the jury that, in his opinion, Martin was suffering at the time from "a severe depressive episode".

Man charged with murder after woman set alight

A man has been charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life after a woman, believed to be his sister, was set alight in Greater Manchester.

Stephen Archer, 50, is charged with murder and arson with intent to endanger life after a woman was set alight. Credit: GMP

Stephen Archer, 50, is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates Court on Monday, March 7.

Police were called to an address in Newton Heath on Monday morning, February 29, after a man doused a woman, 49, in petrol and set a woman on fire.

She was taken to hospital but died later.

Police arrest Stephen Archer as woman 'set alight' dies

Police arrest Stephen Archer Credit: MEN Syndication David Rowbotham

Police hunting man in connection with the death of a woman believed to have been deliberately set alight in Manchester have made an arrest.

Officers launched a manhunt for 50 year old Stephen Archer on Monday. It followed allegations a man threw a petrol bomb at a woman on Surbiton Road in Newton Heath. The victim suffered 70% burns to her body and passed away days later.

Armed officers made the arrest after an off-duty GMP officer spotted a suspect getting off a train at Marple railway station today.

Police hunting for suspected arsonist warn petrol stations to be 'extra vigilant'

Stephen Archer

Police are renewing their appeal to find Stephen Archer who is suspected of setting a woman on fire in Manchester.

Officers were called to Surbiton Road in Newton Heath on Monday to reports a man had deliberately set fire to a woman. They found a 49 year old woman with 70% burns to her body.

Initial investigations suggest that petrol was thrown over the woman before she was set alight. A 19-year-old woman escaped uninjured from an upstairs window of the house, with help from neighbours.

“I would like to repeat our appeal to the public to have a look at Stephen’s photo and get in touch with us if you have seen him or you have any idea where he could be.

“We are appealing to those who work in petrol stations to be extra vigilant and call police if you think you see him.

“Stephen usually wears a baseball cap, and carrys a large rucksack and he is known to travel on a bicycle.

“Again, please do not approach Stephen Archer, but contact police as a matter of urgency by calling 999.

– Superintendent Arif Nawaz

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