Sentence of Cwmbran pensioner who killed wife in first lockdown to be reviewed

A pensioner jailed for strangling his wife to death in the first lockdown will have his sentence reviewed by the Court of Appeal.

Anthony Williams told police he "literally choked the living daylights" out of his wife Ruth, 67, at their home in Cwmbran on the morning of March 28 last year, after he "snapped" following a period of feeling depressed and anxious.

Williams, then 70, was jailed for five years in February after he was cleared of murder but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

His sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

During the sentencing at Swansea Crown Court, Judge Paul Thomas said it was a "tragic case on several levels" and that Williams's mental state was "severely affected at the time".

The judge said Williams was suffering from severe depression, anxiety, a lack of sleep, and had been "obsessing" over Covid-19.

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

Three senior judges will consider the referral at a hearing in London on Friday.

Williams did not give evidence at his trial but told detectives he "snapped" while in bed and that he began strangling his wife after she told him to "get over it".

He then chased his wife downstairs and again grabbed her by her throat as she tried to unlock the front door to escape.

Mrs Williams was found slumped in the couple's porch with a pair of keys in her hand.

She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead, having suffered haemorrhaging in her eyes, face and mouth which were consistent with strangulation, as well as five neck fractures.

Williams also told detectives he had found lockdown "really, really hard" just five days into the UK-wide restrictions, felt "depressed" and was worried the couple would run out of cash because banks were shut.

The trial heard from a psychologist who argued his anxiety "was heightened" because of lockdown, which impaired his ability to exercise self-control.

Labour MPs Harriet Harman, Jess Phillips and Alex Davies-Jones had called for Williams's prison term to be reviewed by the Court of Appeal.

Ms Harman, who served as solicitor general between 2001 and 2005, previously told the PA news agency: "There's a loophole in the law, a fundamental flaw, which gives excuses to a man who kills his wife, which he would never get away with if he killed his neighbour."

Last month Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered a domestic homicide review (DHR) into Mrs Williams's death.

The appeal will be heard by Lord Justice Bean and two other judges.