Sara Thornton branded 'a pathological liar'

Sara Thornton, who stabbed her violent, drunken husband to death as he lay in an alcoholic stupor, was a "pathological liar" motivated by financial greed, it was alleged yesterday.

As the prosecution described the killing, Mrs Thornton broke down in the dock at Oxford Crown Court and sobbed: "Please take me home." The hearing was temporarily adjourned while she recovered her composure.

Mrs Thornton, 41, is on trial for the second time accused of the murder of her husband, Malcolm, at the couple's home in Atherstone, Warwickshire, in 1989.

Mr Justice Scott Baker, the judge, told the jury of eight men and four women, that the retrial had been ordered by the Court of Appeal. He said that they must reach their verdict on the evidence put before them alone.

Brian Escott Cox QC, for the prosecution, said that Mr and Mrs Thornton met in 1987 when he was 42 and she was 10 years younger.

They were both heavy drinkers and alcohol was to play an important part in the case.

He continued: "She possessed a further factor, another degree to the dangerous cocktail of their relationship. This was a personality disorder which was only identified by doctors after the death of her husband.

"The effect of it was to make her compulsively attention-seeking. One of the ways she did that was to shock people by what she said, what she did, how she dressed and how she undressed.

"It is an unhappy aspect of her personality that she frequently tends to tell people what she wants them to hear regardless of the reality. Another cruel way of putting it is that she is, in truth, a pathological liar."

Mrs Thornton was sacked from a tele-sales job for drinking and her husband's alcoholism became steadily worse and he began to hit her. He spent a month in a drying-out clinic, but was back drinking soon afterwards.

In 1989, Mr Thornton lost his licence for drink/driving and had to resign from his job as a security officer. He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and later punched Mrs Thornton in the face during a row.

Mr Escott Cox said that after one episode of Mr Thornton's heavy drinking his wife was told by Helen Thomas, a workmate, "you have got to sort this out".

Mrs Thornton replied: "The only way to sort this out is to kill him."

On the 13 June, 1989, after spending two nights elsewhere, Mr Thornton returned home and by the evening was sprawled out on the sofa in a drunken stupor. His wife and his son, Martin, who was living with them, decided to go out to a pub.

Before they went out, Mrs Thornton wrote "Bastard Thornton, I hate you," in lipstick on a mirror. When they came back, Martin went to bed.

Mr Escott Cox said that Mrs Thornton had always claimed that she stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife by accident after a row during which he accused her of being a prostitute.

But he said that Martin, who was not fully asleep, "heard a murmured conversation, no raised voices, no shouts".

He then heard someone rummaging through the cutlery drawer in the kitchen.

He said: "Martin heard his father scream and came downstairs to be greeted by Sara saying: 'Martin, I have killed your father.'"

In fact, Mr Thornton died several hours later while in hospital.

The killing, said Mr Escott Cox, was motivated wholly or partly by financial considerations.

He continued: "Sara Thornton had a fixation that if she left Malcolm before she had been married to him for a year she would lose her interest in the house."

Mr Escott Cox said that this may not have actually been the legal situation, but Mrs Thornton thought it was and so killing her husband was "the ultimate solution".

The case continues today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore