'Unduly lenient' sentence review for Cwmbran man Anthony Williams, who strangled wife to death

Ruth Williams was strangled to death at the couple's Cwmbran home during the first UK lockdown Credit: Gwent Police / Family

The prison sentence of a man who strangled his wife to death days into the first UK lockdown is set to be reviewed amid criticism that it is 'unduly lenient'.

Anthony Williams, 70, admitted he "literally choked the living daylights" out of his wife Ruth, 67, at their Cwmbran home on the morning of March 28 last year.

Williams denied murder but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, saying he had "snapped" following a period of feeling depressed and anxious.

He was jailed for five years at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday after a jury unanimously cleared him of murder.

The following day, Labour MP Harriet Harman said she wanted the sentence to be reviewed and had referred it to the Attorney General's office.

Ms Harman said on Twitter: "I have today referred the five-year sentence of Anthony Williams for killing his wife Ruth Williams to the Attorney General Suella Braverman asking for her to refer it for review as an Unduly Lenient Sentence."

It is UK law that for prison sentences other than life sentences, offenders serve half their sentence in prison and half on licence in the community.

Under these terms, Williams would be due to be released from prison in two-and-a-half years.

Anyone can ask for a Crown Court prison sentence to be reviewed - they don’t have to be involved in the case.

The Attorney General has the power to refer sentences which she believes to be unduly lenient to the Court of Appeal. 

The sentence will either remain the same, or could be increased if it is found to be unreasonably low.

In the UK, the maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment.

Williams was jailed for five years at Swansea Crown Court Credit: PA Images

In interviews read to the jury, Williams agreed with detectives that he was responsible for the killing of his wife of 46 years, telling them he "snapped" while in bed before putting his hands around her throat and choking her after she told him to calm down.

He said he chased his wife downstairs and again grabbed her by her throat as she tried to unlock the front door to escape, saying he found himself "throttling her to death".

The couple's daughter, Emma Williams, 40, told the court her parents spent "90% of their time together", were "not argumentative people", and she had never heard either of them even "raise their voice" to each other.

Ms Williams said: "My dad's a gentle giant. He wouldn't hurt a fly."

But she said her father had shown signs of strange behaviour from January 2020, including claiming he was going to lose the couple's home and becoming "obsessed" with turning off lights and heating to save money, despite having plenty of savings.

Ms Williams said her father was watching news reports on the global pandemic "all the time" and believed "no-one's ever leaving the house again".

Two psychologists gave evidence about Williams' state of mind at the time of the attack, with Dr Alison Witts arguing his anxiety and depressive illness were "heightened" by the tough coronavirus measures imposed on the UK days earlier and impaired his ability to exercise self-control.

But another psychologist, Dr Damian Gamble, said Williams had no documented history of suffering from depression and had "no psychiatric defences" available to him, telling the court he believed Williams "knew what he was doing at the time".

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