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Man strangles wife in front of daughters, burns body in UK
February 12, 2019
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LONDON: A “controlling” husband who strangled his estranged wife to death before burning her body has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Thomas Peter, 50, of Valentines Way, Romford, killed jobcentre worker Karen Peter on 2 August 2018 in the family home and stopped the couple’s three daughters as they tried to save their mother’s life.

During the trial, the court was told that the plasterer regularly throttled his wife of 24 years and also subjected her to years of psychological abuse.

He is said that have flown into a violent rage after finding out she had “met someone special”, ditched her wedding ring and was moving on from the toxic marriage.

Prosecutor Gareth Patterson said Peter showed “not one ounce of compassion” to the mother of his children who was just starting to grow in confidence.

“He forced a flannel cloth deep into his wife's mouth, possibly trying to silence her.

”With one or both hands he strangled his wife to death.

“After murdering her, and despite the presence of his daughters, he started at least two fires in the house. He set fire to his wife's body and left it in a locked first-floor bedroom.”

Karen's body was found with burns around the groin and thighs and marks on her head and neck.

The Old Bailey heard that the serial adulterer took out a £300,000 life insurance policy just weeks before the killing at the family home.

Judge Richard Marks said Peter treated his wife “abysmally” and must spend a minimum term of 25 years behind bars.

He said: “Karen must have suffered an agonising death in her own home as you squeezed the life out of her as she tried to attract the attention of her three daughters upon whom she doted but was unable because you rammed that cloth down her throat for the express purpose of stopping her doing so.”Their three daughters, now aged 22,20 and 14, all gave evidence in the trial against their father.

They said they had woken after hearing a "muffled scream" from the bedroom.

When one of them entered the bedroom Peter kicked the door shut and locked it. He then claimed his wife had gone for a walk before setting her body alight.

Firefighters were called and despite Peter's claims the house was empty, broke down the bedroom door to find the victim badly burnt, the jury heard.

Peter’s eldest daughter Imogen, 22, said in a statement that the murder of her mother had “blew our world apart.”

“When they told us our mother’s body had been found inside the house, time stood still, frozen, people talked but nothing made sense. 

She added: “We always thought of our dad as our protector, protecting us from the outside world, so it is ironic it was him we needed protecting from, and him who took Mum from us.”

Peter had denied murder and arson, claiming his wife died in an accident after he lit candles to "lighten the mood".

But the jury rejected his claims and unanimously found him guilty of murder. 

Detective Sergeant Perry Benton, the investigating officer from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command, described Peter as an “evil man” whose actions were “sustained and deliberate”

“I am delighted he has been convicted and jailed and will face the consequences of his heinous crime,” he said.

“This was a vicious and merciless murder carried out by Peter in the family home while his three daughters slept in nearby rooms.”

On the loss of her daughter, Karen’s mother Marjorie McDonald told the court she “watched helplessly” as her daughter died inside the burning home. 

“This day will torture me forever,” she said. ”I feel such sorrow knowing Karen will never see her gorgeous children grow, get married or have children of their own. Thomas has taken this away from Karen, from all of us."

The Independent

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