Alleged wife killer was 'depressed'

A CHEATING husband who blasted his wife to death with a single shot from a 12-bore shotgun was suffering from clinical depression, it was claimed yesterday.

A CHEATING husband who blasted his wife to death with a single shot from a 12-bore shotgun was suffering from clinical depression, it was claimed yesterday.

A consultant psychiatrist told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court he was satisfied that John Walker's "ability to retain his self-control was lost, his judgement impaired and rational consideration absent" when he shot his 63-year-old wife, Glenda.

Describing the killing, Dr Tony Nayani said: "It was pointless and destructive and self-destructive at the same time as by taking her life, he has ruined his own."

Giving evidence as a defence witness, Dr Nayani who has interviewed more than 300 people accused of murder, including Dr Harold Shipman, said in his opinion, Walker was suffering from a state of clinical depression when he shot his wife which amounted to an abnormality of the mind which could avail him of a defence of diminished responsibility.

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He said that in 18 hours of meetings with Walker he discovered that he had an obsessional personality and ran his life through a series of lists. "He has a habit of listing everything he does. He has scores of lists. He ticks them off one by one.

"To run your life by a sequence of lists is bizarre. This obsessional rigidity was a striking aspect of his personality," said the doctor.

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Asked by defence council, Diana Ellis, to explain how Walker could have acted apparently purposefully in shooting his wife but then claimed he didn't know what he was doing, Dr Nayani said this could happen in someone suffering from clinical depression.

He likened the situation to someone sleepwalking and managing to perform complex actions and to people being distracted while driving and minutes of time passing while at the same time covering some distance.

Dr Nayani described Walker as a reticent man who did not find it easy to speak of his emotions. "He is very good at putting on a mask. It is his psychological style", he said.

He said that Walker's reserved and obsessional nature would have made it difficult for anyone to know what was going on inside him as on the surface he would appear to be getting on with his life as normal.

In his opinion, Walker had not come to terms with the end of his marriage and had been burying his head in the sand. When he learned on the day before the shooting that his wife had taken steps to change the way their property was owned, it had brought home to him that the marriage collapse was going to happen.

He said if Walker had found it easier to show his feelings and had not bottled things up, the tragedy might not have happened.

Walker, 66, of Lodge Road, Great Bealings, has denied murdering his wife on November 12, 2002.

The court has heard that Walker shot his wife of 40 years, as she sat eating her breakfast in the dining room of their home.

Shortly before, the couple, who had two children, had a heated argument during which Walker claimed his wife had threatened to take him for all he had in their impending divorce and to publicly disgrace him over an affair he had been having by "dragging his name in the dirt".

Walker had taken a 12-bore single barrelled shotgun from a cabinet in the hall and shot his wife once in the chest at close range.

The court has heard that Walker had been having an affair with a woman he had met at ballroom dancing classes. Mrs Walker had found out about the affair after hiring a private detective and had walked out on her husband twice before asking for a divorce.

Giving evidence yesterday, Walker told the court he was born in Ipswich and went to St John's Primary School and Northgate Grammar School where he passed 11 GCSEs and three A Levels.

He said he had been an only child and had been "seriously bullied" at school. He described himself as being lonely and isolated as a child.

He met his wife when he was at university, where she had been working as a cook.

She was his first girlfriend and they had a "wonderful wedding" in 1961.

He and his wife devoted their entire lives to bringing up their two children Jane and Adrian. "They were the total focus of our ambitions and love," he said.

He said the family had moved to Suffolk by the early 1970s and his wife had worked 40 days a year as a deputy registrar.

He said before taking early retirement, he had been a manager of the agricultural division of a chemical company.

The couple had taken up ballroom dancing after the children left home in a bid to bring them closer together but he had ended up having a sexual relationship with a woman he met at the dancing classes.

His wife found out about the affair in 2000 and walked out but was persuaded to return when he promised to end the affair.

He had continued to have a platonic friendship with the woman and after discovering he was still in contact with her, his wife had finally asked for a divorce.

He and his wife had led separate lives under the same roof and on the morning of the shooting, he had confronted her about steps she was taking to change the way their properties, worth about £1million were owned.

He claimed that during an argument she threatened to take him for all he had and to turn their children, grandchildren and the local community against him.

"She sort of sneered at me and she seemed to be goading me and to gloat over the situation she found herself in.

"I just had an overwhelming feeling of terrible tension. I felt exhausted and cornered", he said.

Describing the shooting, he said: "I know I must have done it but I wasn't aware I was doing it."

Afterwards he had put the gun back in its cabinet and had walked around his garden before dialling 999 for an ambulance and the police.

He said he found it astonishing that he had walked around the garden, but at the time he had been like an automaton.

Cross-examined by prosecution counsel Karim Khalil, he agreed that he told a 999 operator that he had "just committed a murder" and had killed his wife after being "overcome with anger".

However, he denied a suggestion from Mr Khalil that what he was effectively saying was "I've killed my wife and I meant to".

Walker said the words "I've just committed a murder" were the first words that came to him and described the situation. "I was desperate for help," he said.

Mr Khalil suggested to Walker that he was "absolutely furious" with his wife that morning to which Walker replied "It wasn't anger in the way you are expressing it."

During his questioning of Walker, Mr Khalil asked for the defendant to be handed the gun he had used to kill his wife.

He asked Walker to demonstrate to the jury how he would have loaded a cartridge and how he held the weapon when he shot his wife.

Walker explained to the court that he was familiar with the shotgun, that he regularly used it over many years to control rabbits in the garden.

"You were not shooting rabbits this particular morning were you? What did you do with it as you pointed it at her?" asked Mr Khalil.

"I obviously fired it", said Walker.

The trail continues today.

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