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  1. ITV Report

'Controlling bully' who strangled wife and burned her body likely to die in jail

A "controlling bully" who strangled his wife and burned her body after taking out £300,000 in life insurance is likely to die in jail.

Thomas Peter, 50, had throttled wife Karen in the past and belittled her during arguments, calling her "fat" and a "bad mother", a court heard.

The serial adulterer took out the life insurance policy just weeks before the killing at the family home in Valentines Way, Romford, the Old Bailey was told.

Karen Peter, with two of her daughters Credit: Met Police

He strangled 50-year-old Mrs Peter, stuffed a flannel into her mouth and dragged her by the hair while their three children were at home in August last year.

Peter, who feared his wife had met someone new, went on to set fire to her body, to disguise what he had done.

Peter claimed he killed his wife by accident but was found guilty of murder and arson following an Old Bailey trial.

Karen Peter, with her daughters Credit: Met Police

Karen must have suffered an agonising death in her own home as you squeezed the life out of her as she tried to attract the attention of her three daughters upon whom she doted but was unable because you rammed that cloth down her throat for the express purpose of stopping her doing so.

– Richard Marks QC, judge
Karen Peter whose husband, Thomas Peter, has been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 25 years Credit: Met Police

Earlier, a string of impact statements were read out from Mrs Peter's devastated family.

Her three daughters, who sat in court, all gave evidence in the trial against their father.

Imogen Peter, 22, said she longed for "cuddles on the sofa" with her mother as she recalled treasured memories.

She always saw her father as her "protector" but said: "The irony is it was him we needed protection from."

We are young, we do not want to be engulfed in sorrow, we still have our lives to live. When we remember mum we want to remember her funny capers, her laughter, not that tragic day. Our mother deserves to be remembered for the special person she was.

– Imogen Peter, daughter