'Cat confession' pensioner cleared of murder

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The Independent Online

Pensioner David Henton, who was accused of killing his partner then confessing to his cats, was cleared of murder and manslaughter today.

Mr Henton, 73, a former lorry driver of Neath, south Wales, was accused of brutally bludgeoning Joyce Sutton to death after "snapping" in January 2006.

But a jury at Swansea Crown Court cleared him after a seven-week trial in which they heard that police secretly bugged his home and car and apparently caught him confessing murder to pets Twinkie and Pudsey.

There were gasps from the public gallery as the forewoman of the jury declared that Henton was not guilty of murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Mr Justice Grigson thanked the jury of nine women and three men for their patience during the 41 days of the trial.

As Mr Henton was led from court by his solicitors, the family of Joyce Sutton hurled abuse at him.

Anna Sutton, the daughter-in-law of Mrs Sutton, had to be held back from attacking the pensioner in the foyer area outside Court No.1.

Detective Sgt Dave Peart of South Wales Police said: "We acknowledge the not guilty verdict at Swansea Crown Court earlier today. Out thoughts are with the family of Joyce Sutton. They can be assured that we will continue to support them where we can."

He added: "No decision has yet been made as to whether the case will be reopened."

Before Mr Henton left the court building he was embraced by members of the jury who had taken nearly 12 hours to reach their verdicts.

Mr Henton declined to comment before he was driven away from Swansea Crown Court.

The family of Joyce Sutton were said to be too upset to speak following the verdict.