Life for paedophile who killed wife with hammer

image captionGeoffrey Norton murdered his wife while on bail

A man who murdered his wife with a hammer while on bail accused of child sex assaults has been jailed for life.

Geoffrey Norton, 67, bludgeoned his 64-year-old wife Janet over the head while she slept at their caravan park home in Preesall, Lancashire, in January.

Preston Crown Court was told he killed his wife because he could not bear the shame his offences would cause her, but lacked the courage to kill himself.

Norton was told he must serve a minimum of 19 years before parole.

Mr Justice MacDuff, sentencing, told him: "This was a brutal murder of an innocent woman who had done nothing to deserve this.

"It was you, not she, who had committed shameful criminal acts."

Norton was initially arrested in December 2009 over claims he sexually assaulted a young girl - allegations he strenuously denied.

But weeks later, on 22 January, he beat his wife to death, dialling 999 shortly after the attack at Willow Grove Caravan Park.

He told the operator: "I have just killed my wife."

Mrs Norton died in hospital the same day. A post-mortem examination showed she suffered severe head injuries.

Norton, who had been married for 46 years, pleaded guilty to the murder and a string of child sex offences on Monday.

The judge told Norton on Wednesday: "Your wickedness is difficult to comprehend.

"It is said that you could not bear the thought that she would have to live with the knowledge of your sexual offending and that she would be unable to cope.

image captionJanet Norton had a loving nature, her family said

"The perverse reasoning appears to be that you were in some sense sparing her anguish, that it was kinder to kill her than to let her live in the shadow of your shame."

Louise Blackwell QC, prosecuting, said Norton gave money to his first victim to buy her secrecy about the abuse, which dated back to the 1970s.

But when a second victim came forward in 2009 he denied the allegation to his wife and police, the court heard.

"He thought of killing himself but did not have the courage," she said.

After carrying out the attack Norton alerted police, who arrived to discover the blood-stained body of Mrs Norton whose "hands were clenched to her face like claws".

"When interviewed he admitted what he had done," said Miss Blackwell. "He gave as an excuse that he could not bear the shame he was going to cause his wife."

The prosecution said psychiatric examinations revealed he was not suffering any mental illness at the time.

Norton admitted murder and 11 counts of indecent assault on a child between 1972 and 1983, and assaulting a child under 13 in 2008 by sexual touching.

David Fish QC, in mitigation, said his client accepted his actions were inexcusable.

"The defendant's belief was that in some way he was acting for the best," he added.

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