Manchester

Natalia Strelchenko murder: Husband John Martin found guilty

Natalia Strelchenko at piano
Image caption Ms Strelchenko, also known as Natalia Strelle, performed piano recitals in London and New York and moved to Manchester in 2009

A classical musician has been found guilty of murdering his Russian wife, the renowned concert pianist Natalia Strelchenko.

Double bass player John Martin, 48, strangled her at their Newton Heath home in Manchester, on the couple's second wedding anniversary.

Ms Strelchencko, 38, died of head and neck injuries last August, the trial at Manchester Crown Court was told.

Martin had denied murder and claimed he had no memory of the attack.

'Very jealous'

The court heard he beat Ms Strelchenko, who was also known by the surname Strelle, after losing his temper at their home on 30 August.

The prosecution claimed Martin was jealous of Ms Strelchenko's successful career but giving evidence he told the jury that was "ridiculous".

The couple's relationship was "marked with tensions," prosecuting counsel Rob Hall said.

"He was very jealous if she was out without him... They would also argue regularly about such matters as financial affairs and who should keep the house clean," Mr Hall said.

Image caption Martin was captured on a police officer's bodycam saying "kill me, kill me please"

Martin, who worked for the computer firm IBM in his home country of Norway before becoming a musician, met Ms Strelchenko in 2007.

She made her debut at the age of 12 with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and performed piano recitals at New York's Carnegie Hall and London's Wigmore Hall.

She moved to Manchester in 2009 following the breakdown of her first marriage three years earlier.

The family of Ms Strelchenko said the musician had been "much loved" adding: "we will never forget Natalia or the many memories she has given us".

In a statement they said: "She was extremely talented with much life ahead of her.

"She was taken from us in August in completely unnecessary circumstances. We cannot express how devastated we are that her life has been stolen from her.

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Media captionNatalia Strelchenko performed with the Alderley Edge Orchestra in May

"We miss Natalia every minute of every day. We can try to repair our heartache although no matter how long the sentence is, it will not bring Natalia back or make our loss any easier."

During the trial, a friend who had been staying at the couple's home described how the double-bass player went for his wife "like an animal", throwing both her and himself down the stairs before repeatedly punching her.

When the female guest pleaded with him to stop, Martin said: "I want to kill her."

76 injuries

When police arrived at their home in Culcheth Lane on 30 August last year, Martin repeatedly said "kill me, kill me please, I have nothing to live for, I do not deserve to live". This was caught on a police officer's bodycam.

Ms Strelchenko had 76 injuries including 45 separate marks to her head and neck having suffered repeated blows to her face.

After drinking around four cans of cider, Martin left the house before returning at around midnight after learning that Ms Strelchenko had advertised the address on a property exchange website for people who wanted to swap homes for short periods.

He claimed he had no memory of pushing her, falling down the stairs or of the struggle that followed.

A consultant psychiatrist called by the defence, told the jury he believed Martin had been suffering from "a severe depressive episode".

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