Jury to retire in wife shooting case

A JURY is expected to retire to consider its verdict today in the case of a husband accused of murdering his wife by shooting her in the chest.John Walker, 66, of Lodge Road, Great Bealings, has denied murdering his 63-year-old wife Glenda at their home on November 12, 2002.

By Danielle Nuttall

A JURY is expected to retire to consider its verdict today in the case of a husband accused of murdering his wife by shooting her in the chest.

John Walker, 66, of Lodge Road, Great Bealings, has denied murdering his 63-year-old wife Glenda at their home on November 12, 2002.

He has admitted the shooting but his defence team argue he should be found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter as he was clinically depressed at the time.

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Judge John Devaux concluded his summing up of the case yesterday after prosecution and defence counsel made their closing speeches to the jury sitting at Ipswich Crown Court.

On the fourth day of the trial, the court heard evidence from a second medical expert, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Bohdan Solomka.

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Dr Solomka told the jury Walker had been suffering from anxiety and a "depressive episode" at the time of the incident.

"In my view Mr Walker suffered three conditions at the time of the alleged offence. An obsessional personality, he suffered from chronic anxiety and at the time of the offence a depressive episode which is a mental illness," he said.

"This is more than simple unhappiness or simple distress.

"There was evidence available to me that Mr Walker was a very methodical person. Where the obsessional personality can be detrimental and drag you down is where life is not so straightforward anymore.

"You cannot manage marital problems with lists. It doesn't work like that. The person with the obsessional personality will keep trying that way, even though it's clearly ineffective in this case he kept trying.

"People with obsessional personalities are therefore prone to depression. Their only real way of coping with life is to organise it and when it cannot be organised they start to break down.

"That's what I believe occurred in Mr Walker's case. In my view this anxiety was the outcome of a struggle to manage his life methodically and carefully."

The psychiatrist said some people who suffered from anxiety turned to drink or aggression and violence while others tackled it in another way.

He told the jury Walker had been bullied at school, and was isolated and shy. In his opinion, he said Walker had found a "winning formula" that overcame his inhibitions and anxiety.

"In that context, being very methodical and hard working worked," he added.

Dr Solomka said during his meetings with Walke, he had not admitted to him that he was suffering from depression of any kind.

"He saw himself as a successful person. It was very important to present this image of an upstanding member of the community. For him to admit to suffering from a mental illness was very difficult."

Shortly before the shooting, 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 been told.

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.

Dr Solomka told the jury yesterday that in his opinion, Walker had exaggerated the outcome of a divorce in his mind.

"In my view, because of his depression he had formed an abnormally bleak view of his situation," he added.

"The straightforward thing to have done was to simply divorce. But that through Mr Walker's depressed way of thinking was completely intolerable.

"Yes, he would have to share out the property and in reality that was probably as far as it went.

"He seemed to believe he would lose the relationship with his children. He seemed to believe everyone would turn against him."

In closing the case for the prosecution yesterday, counsel Karim Khalil QC repeated the alleged words of Walker to the emergency services after he had shot his wife.

"`Hello, my name is Walker and I have just committed a murder.' 'Why have you done that Mr Walker?'. 'I was overcome with anger'," he said.

"The prosecution say that is right. He had just committed a murder and was overcome with anger."

Mr Khalil said the defence would claim Walker was provoked by his wife immediately before the incident occurred.

"The prosecution say no. This is murder," he added.

But defence counsel Diana Ellis, QC, said she hoped to persuade the jury on the basis of the evidence heard that the verdict was one of manslaughter and not murder.

"There is something in the make up and personality of Mr Walker that couldn't face the idea of divorce," she said.

"What you may feel is that you have a picture of a man who in many ways was very introverted and had difficulties in communicating on a personal level."

She added: "For the previous 41 years he had never been violent. As a man, who for all his weakness and frailty would never have done an act such as that of killing his wife, to destroy everything he had striven and worked for."

The case continues.

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