Woman 'killed with baby son at her side'

A WOMAN died in the bedroom of her Suffolk home with her baby son lying beside her after her husband allegedly punched her in the neck and caused a fatal injury, a court has heard.

Jane Hunt

A WOMAN died in the bedroom of her Suffolk home with her baby son lying beside her after her husband allegedly punched her in the neck and caused a fatal injury, a court has heard.

Anthony Morley allegedly left the home he shared with his 42-year-old wife Joanne in Eagle Walk, Bury St Edmunds, after hitting her during a row and it wasn't until the next morning that anyone realised she was dead, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

A post-mortem examination showed that Mrs Morley had suffered a torn artery after being struck on the neck and had quickly collapsed unconscious and died shortly afterwards.

Morley, also 42, has denied the manslaughter of his wife in June last year.

John Farmer, prosecuting, told the court that the couple had married in October 2004 and had a turbulent relationship punctuated by separations and arguments.

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Anthony Morley was Joanne's second husband. They had a 16-month-old son and she had three sons by her first husband.

In June last year one of those sons had visited Bury St Edmunds and his mother had organised a barbecue on June 23 to introduce him to her friends.

A number of people had stayed overnight in the house and after Mrs Morley and her husband had gone upstairs to bed with their baby they were heard arguing.

Witnesses in a neighbouring bedroom allegedly heard Mrs Morley laughing and then a thud followed by silence.

Mr Farmer said the witnesses found what they heard “chilling, upsetting and inexplicable” and one of them had gone to Mrs Morley's bedroom and asked what was going on.

Morley, who appeared to be getting dressed, had replied “nothing” and said that his wife, who was lying on the bed, was asleep.

The witness could apparently hear Mrs Morley snoring and had gone back to bed. During the night the baby had woken up and a relative had gone into Mrs Morley's room and had taken him out to tend to him.

Mr Farmer said at that stage Mrs Morley was lying in the same position as she had been earlier and was by then dead.

He said that during the barbecue Mrs Morley had consumed alcohol and tests showed that, had she been driving, she would have been about one-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit.

After Mrs Morley was found dead in her bedroom, Morley was contacted and told a witness that he and his wife had had an argument the night before and she had kicked him out of bed.

Morley said he had gone to his office to sleep and had last seen his wife at midnight when she was in bed with their baby.

He said she had been snoring and he thought this was because of the amount of alcohol she had consumed.

In a prepared statement to police after his arrest Morley said he had been in bed with his son when his wife had come in “very drunk and aggressive”.

He claimed she told him to get off her side of the bed and had slapped and kicked him.

He had pushed her and she had fallen on to the bed and had started snoring. “I had no reason to believe she was anything but asleep,” said Morley.

“If I knew she was seriously unwell I would never have left her. I never behaved aggressively towards her.”

Mr Farmer claimed that what Morley told police was “nonsense” and that he had been the only person available to deliver the fatal blow.

“He knew there was a direct connection between him hitting her and her going into unconsciousness,” said Mr Farmer.

“She was unlawfully struck by the defendant and the cause of her death was being struck,” he added.

The trial continues today.

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