Architect twice tried to murder his third wife

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The Independent Online

An architect who tried to smother his third wife with a pillow eight years after attempting to throttle her is facing jail after being found guilty of attempted murder.

Clive Wille, 56, said "Die, you bitch" as he held down his 38-year-old wife, Sue, on the bed at their home in Croydon, south London, in April this year. Wille twice bit her during the struggle before stopping and dialling 999, the Old Bailey heard.

He showed no emotion as he was convicted by a 10-2 majority verdict and was remanded in custody to be sentenced on 20 November.

The jurors had not been told of a previous attempt to strangle his wife in 2001, when he straddled her on the bed and tried to strangle her until she kicked him off. She did not go to police at the time.

The court heard how during the latest incident, Wille again straddled Mrs Wille and used the pillow "with quite some force" and for "at least a couple of minutes".

Sally Halkerston, for the prosecution, said: "He didn't just mean it as a joke or to teach her a lesson. He really meant it. He meant to kill her."

Afterwards he told police: "I want to plead guilty to attempted murder." But he later changed his story, pleading guilty to a charge of threats to kill but denying that he really meant to murder his wife.

Jurors heard that the couple had money worries and on the day of the attack Wille had rung his wife and was "shouting and screaming" about the fact she had withdrawn cash to buy bread and milk.

When he returned to the house he was calm until Mrs Wille told him that she wanted a divorce. Then he became angry and threatening, forcing the pillow over her face as she lay in bed so that she couldn't breathe properly, holding it down for two or three minutes and biting her hand and arm when she tried to defend herself.

But he then stopped, got off her and went to the living room, jurors were told. Wille called police. He told officers he was on medication for depression and had been drinking.

In court he admitted that he had an "explosion of anger" but claimed he never intended to kill his wife, although he wanted her to think he would.