Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ornament killer Joseph Richardson jailed for life

Janette Richardson
Image caption Janette Richardson told her husband she intended to leave him

A man has been jailed for life after murdering his wife with a guinea pig ornament and fishing knives.

Joseph Richardson, 61, killed his 57-year-old wife Janette at their home in Musselburgh, East Lothian, in November because she planned to leave him.

Richardson then made a failed attempt to kill himself.

He was told he must serve at least 13 years and two months behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Doherty told Richardson: "You subjected the woman you loved to a terrifying and horrific death."

"Immediately prior to confronting her about meeting another man you armed yourself with two knives and a heavy ornament. The pain you have caused your children and grandchildren is immense."

Lord Doherty described Richardson as a man who had been a hard-working and valued tradesman before he retired.

He had also been "a good husband and father" prior to his marital problems, the judge said, and was "genuinely remorseful.

The judge told Richardson he would have faced a minimum prison sentence of 15 years if it were not for his guilty plea.

A relative called out as Richardson was led from the dock to begin his sentence: "Why did you have to do it?"

A previous court hearing was told the couple had married in 1974, but had "significant marital problems".

Mrs Richardson was said to have contacted a friend from her younger days, who lived in England, and told her husband she intended to leave him.

Richardson phoned the man on the day of the murder and told him: "You are going to feel like I feel in a couple of hours time".

Richardson and his wife were found lying in their bed by their eldest daughter and her husband, who initially thought they were both dead.

A knife which was lying on top of a chest of drawers and a ceramic guinea pig which was found on the floor were both covered in blood.

The couple then realised Richardson, who had self-inflicted injuries to his chest and neck, was still alive.

'Deeply ashamed'

Defence counsel Mark Stewart QC said Richardson had taken it "extremely badly" when his wife indicated she was leaving.

"She expressed the view she no longer loved him and wished to set up a relationship with her old friend.

"It came as a real and devastating shock to find out that his wife had been meeting and seeing this gentleman and that she intended to leave him".

He said the only explanation Richardson could offer was that "he simply lost his self-control and perspective".

He added: "He views what he did as despicable and is deeply ashamed of his actions."

A statement released by the family after the sentencing said: "We have not just lost our mum but our dad as well. We would like to express that we were a normal, close-knit family prior to this. However, we can never forgive him for taking our mum's life.

"We lost someone we all loved and cherished. It was the most gut-wrenching, cruel, devastating day of our lives and one that we will never come to terms with or understand.

"Our mum was our world. She was cruelly taken away from us at a time when she had so much more still to live for. She was loving caring and extremely supportive of her four children and two granddaughters."

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