Gateshead retired Police Officer jailed after leaving wife dead following attack

Credit: Northumbria PoliceCredit: Northumbria Police
Credit: Northumbria Police
The victom was found dead in her bed by concerned neighbours who called to the house.

A retired police officer who killed his former sergeant wife after a row about him watching pornography has been jailed for nine years.

Alan Claxton attacked Wendy Claxton, 70, on the stairs at their home and caused her to fall with force, which resulted in major internal bleeding.

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She was found dead in bed the following day, with injuries usually caused by a car crash or fall from a height.

When Mrs Claxton's phone was examined by police after her death, the device showed she had taken three pictures of her husband watching television, which displayed "women in underwear", in the hours before her death.

Prosecutor Richard Wright KC told Newcastle Crown Court: "Alan Claxton admitted himself to the police he had spent part of the afternoon watching pornography at home and his wife did not like him watching pornography. That may be obvious from the fact she was taking photographs of him watching pornography."

Mrs Claxton was found dead in her bed by concerned neighbours who called to the house when they noticed the front door was ajar.

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The court heard heavy drinker Claxton was in the living room and when asked where his wife was, he told them "I think she's dead".

Mr Wright said Claxton had "assaulted her in some way, causing her to fall", which ultimately caused her death but added there was no suggestion he intended her to die or even suffer really serious injury.

Claxton, now 74, denied manslaughter but has been convicted by a jury after a trial.

The court heard Claxton has a history of convictions for mistreating his wife, dating back to 1999 when he was given probation for threatening behaviour towards her.

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In 2001 he was jailed for three months for battery and making threats to kill her.

He has other convictions for carrying knives in public and there had been further domestic call outs to the house.

Mrs Justice Foster said Mrs Claxton was a well-liked, neighbourly woman who was generous "perhaps to a fault" and was not a drinker.

The judge told Claxton: "The life you caused her to live was clearly harder than the challenges she faced at work."

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Justice Foster said Mrs Claxton had taken photographs of her husband watching pornography and added: "You knew she did not like you watching such things.

"Her phone contents showed she went to the trouble of taking three photographs of the screen which showed what you were watching.

"I am sure, given what we know about your history of abuse and arrests by the police in circumstances of previous arguments and violence, some sort of argument ensued."

Justice Foster said Mrs Claxton's fall was "violent, forceful and catastrophic" and added: "It was the culmination of many years of your treatment of her."

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The court heard the couple, who were both retired police officers, had been married for 45 years and lived together at Hillside in Dunston, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, but their marriage was not happy due to Claxton's drinking.

Mr Wright told the court: "Wendy Claxton had been keeping a note on the calendar of the amount of money Alan Claxton had been spending on drink.

"He was drinking spirits in vast quantities on a daily basis.

"Alan Claxton and Wendy Claxton were anything but happy together. The atmosphere in the house was difficult, confrontational and it was fuelled by the defendant's drinking.

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"In contrast, Wendy Claxton was not a woman who abused alcohol."

Mr Wright told the court Mrs Claxton's body was found on September 30 2019 but the fatal attack happened the night before: "Neighbours discovered Wendy Claxton dead in bed. It was quite clear she had been dead for some time.

"When she was found she was wearing clothing on her upper body but was naked from the waist down."

Mr Wright added: "The direct cause of Wendy's death was internal haemorrhage, the technical term for bleeding or blood loss."

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Mr Wright said Mrs Claxton's aorta, a major blood vessel that supplies the heart had been damaged and the result was 1.6litres of blood had gone into her chest cavity. She also had multiple rib fractures.

The court heard the neighbours who found Mrs Claxton's body had noticed the front door of the house was ajar and had sent a text to check up then visited the house when they got no reply.

Mr Wright said: "On shouting and asking if anyone was in they heard a grunt from the living room and entered to find Alan Claxton in the living room in a drunken state.

"The woman asked where Wendy was and he replied 'I think she's dead'.

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"The couple made their way upstairs to a bedroom where they found Wendy Claxton in bed.

Her upper body was clothed in a fleece top and her bottom half was naked. She was plainly dead and had been for some significant time, she was stone cold to the touch." The court heard when the couple returned to the living room Claxton was "swigging out of the bottle".

Mr Wright said Claxton was so drunk when the emergency services arrived that he was taken to intensive care himself and added: "He literally almost drank himself to death."

The court heard Claxton told police he had been helping Mrs Claxton get up the stairs while she was in a drunken state and that she fell accidentally before making her way to bed where she passed away.

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But Mr Wright said tests confirmed Mrs Claxton was not drunk when she died and would have been unlikely to make her own way up the stairs and get undressed after she sustained such a serious injury.

Mr Wright told jurors: "The doctor said these are the sort of injuries you normally see in a car accident, falls from height, massive levels of force involved."

Francis Fitzgibbon, defending, said Claxton's behaviour stems from alcoholism and added: "He is utterly washed up".

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