A retired UK factory worker who admitted strangling his wife just days into the first national coronavirus lockdown has been found not guilty of murder.
Anthony Williams, 70, told cops in Wales he “literally choked the living daylights” out of his wife of 46 years, Ruth, at their Cwmbran home on March 28, five days into the UK-wide lockdown that left him “depressed,” the Independent reported.
Williams told detectives he killed his 67-year-old wife after “snapping” during an argument. He had retired from his job as a factory worker 18 months earlier and was not coping well in the aftermath, according to the report.
“I am sorry, I just snapped,” he told officers at the scene. “I am sorry.”
Williams strangled his wife with a dressing gown cord, according to the Sun, which also noted the grisly attack was the first reported lockdown slaying. Prosecutors said he went to a neighbor’s home after the killing and confessed.
“She’s dead, I’ve killed her — we had an argument and I’ve strangled her,” Williams reportedly told an operator. “You have to come straightaway.”
Responding cops found Ruth Williams on the couple’s porch while holding a set of keys. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital, where doctors found hemorrhaging to her eyes, face and mouth, as well as five fractures in her neck, the Sun reported.
During the trial, jurors heard recordings of Williams insisting to cops that his wife’s death “wasn’t murder,” claiming he “didn’t mean” to kill her.
“I just flipped, it wasn’t me,” Williams told officers, according to the Sun. “I wouldn’t hurt a fly, it wasn’t me, I’m not like that and I don’t know what came over me.”
A Swansea Crown court jury unanimously cleared Williams of murder on Monday.
A psychologist testified that Williams’ anxiety and depression were “heightened” by the strict COVID-19 lockdown and impacted his ability to control his actions, the Independent reported.
Williams’ former job had been “one of his main coping mechanisms” for his “neurotic disposition,” psychologist Alison Witts reportedly told the court.
But a second psychologist told jurors Williams had “no psychiatric” defense for the slaying, saying he had no history of depression.
“[Williams] knew what he was doing at the time,” psychologist Damian Gamble told the court.
The couple’s daughter, meanwhile, said she feared her father had been “spiraling out of control” beginning months earlier, telling her he thought the couple was going to lose their home despite having no mortgage and more than $205,000 in savings, BBC reported.
The father, who had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, will reportedly be sentenced on the lesser charge by a judge Thursday.