Man jailed for killing wife of 45 years

A man who left his wife to die after assaulting her and causing her to fall down a flight of stairs at their home has been jailed.

A jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard that Alan Claxton's wife, Wendy, died after suffering broken ribs and a fractured spine in the incident in 2019.

Claxton, 74, of Hillside, Whickham, had denied the offence but was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced on Thursday to nine years in prison.

Det Ch Insp Graeme Barr, of Northumbria Police, said Claxton "had proven himself to be a liar" after giving a number of conflicting accounts.

The jury had heard that on the night of 30 September 2019, concerned neighbours had found Claxton incoherent and slumped in a chair downstairs at the couple's home, while his wife of 45 years was found dead on her bed upstairs.

Claxton was arrested on suspicion of his wife's murder, but he denied any wrongdoing and was released on police bail while an investigation took place.

However, medical evidence later confirmed that Mrs Claxton's injuries, which included 19 broken ribs, a fractured spine and a ruptured aorta, could not have been sustained accidentally.

Claxton was brought back into custody where he was charged with his wife's manslaughter, which he denied.

After Claxton was sentenced, Det Ch Insp Barr, senior investigating officer, said: “Claxton tried to cover up what he did, telling us Wendy had fallen down the stairs because she was drunk.

"But the evidence we uncovered showed this to be a complete fabrication and an attempt to cover up his own callous offending.

“The investigation established Wendy had been a victim of repeated alcohol-fuelled domestic violence by Alan throughout their marriage."

Det Ch Insp Barr added that towards the end of Mrs Claxton's life, she was becoming "increasingly concerned by her husband’s addiction to alcohol and the risks that this created for her".

While Wendy had "limited family", she was a "great friend to many people in her community", he added.

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