Wiltshire

Man who killed disabled wife in drink-fuelled row jailed

Christopher and Julie Collier Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption The Colliers had been married for three years

A man has been jailed for killing his disabled wife when he "snapped" during a row after an night of drinking.

Christopher Collier, 53, admitted the manslaughter of his wife Julie at their flat in Charter Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire in September 2015.

Bristol Crown Court heard both were "long-term alcoholics" and drinking had damaged Mrs Collier's health to the extent she had to use a wheelchair .

Collier was sentenced to four years but is likely to serve two.

On the night of Mrs Collier's death, the court heard, something happened which caused Collier to lose his temper and strike his "frail" 7-stone wife, who would have "posed no real threat" to him.

Temper fears

Collier told police his wife had hit him and threatened him with a screwdriver. He had punched her and they had fallen to the floor but she was still conscious when he left the flat to buy more drink.

When he returned, he thought she was asleep. But when he could not wake her the next morning he called 999. She had died from a subdural haemorrhage.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Teare told Collier: "This was not a case of a fight involving just one punch. There was a struggle in which you punched her more than once, you ended up on the floor and she banged her head on the floor."

But, he said, there was "no intent to cause her really serious bodily harm".

'Unforgiveable'

Collier had shown "enormous promise" as a young man, Adrian Waterman QC, defending said. He was "educated at one of the country's leading schools" - Downside - and had gone on to study at Oxford University.

He had expressed concerns before that he might lose his temper one day "in the face of what he described as Julie's vile attitude" when drunk, Mr Waterman QC said.

"She had been violent before and he knew that he might snap and obviously, that night, he did."

In a letter read out in court, Collier said his actions were "unforgiveable". "I have caused the death of the person I loved," he wrote.

Mrs Collier's family said in a statement they were "completely devastated to have lost a loving mum, daughter, sister and friend in such a sudden and tragic way".