Pianist Natalia Strelchenko sent 'bad times' text before death

Natalia Strelchenko at piano
Image caption Ms Strelchenko, also known as Natalia Strelle, performed piano recitals in London and New York

A concert pianist, who was allegedly murdered by her husband, sent a text before her death saying she was having "bad times" with him, a jury has heard.

John Martin, 48, denies murdering his Russian-born wife Natalia Strelchenko, 38, at their Manchester home on their second wedding anniversary last August.

Ms Strelchenko's ex-husband told Manchester Crown Court he received a text from her shortly before her death.

He said he read it the next day when it was "too late to react".

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Media captionNatalia Strelchenko performed with the Alderley Edge Orchestra in May

She was married to organist and conductor Vladimir Suzdalevich for 10 years before their marriage broke down and she moved to Manchester three years later in 2009.

He told the jury that they remained "close friends".

He said he met Mr Martin, who was a double bass player, in 2011.

But he recalled that, after a meeting with the couple, she phoned him and said there had been "struggling and fighting in the car" on their way home.

"She said that she was standing by a road and didn't know what to do and asked me to come," he said.

He advised Ms Strelchenko that Mr Martin was a "difficult man to get married with".

'Afraid' to leave

Mr Suzdalevich also said his ex-wife had told him that she wanted to end the relationship with Mr Martin.

He said: "I think she was afraid to say 'I'm leaving you now'."

He recalled her final text, where she said she and her husband were "having bad times in Manchester" and she was looking forward to starting a new job in France.

Ms Strelchenko was found with fatal face and neck injuries at her Newton Heath home.

Mr Martin denies the murder or manslaughter of his wife.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of a male youth who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The trial continues.

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