Teacher sentenced to six years for beating wife to death with iron bar

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The Independent Online

A teacher who bludgeoned his wife to death with a metal bar in a jealous rage was jailed for six years yesterday.

Mark Parnham, 37, was cleared of murder at Lewes Crown Court, but found guilty of manslaughter.

Parnham, who was an information technology teacher at Millais comprehensive school in Horsham, West Sussex, flew into a rage when he confronted his wife, Jillian, 38, a maths teacher at the school. She had been having an affair with another maths teacher, Christopher Worth.

Parnham told the court earlier how he had rained countless blows on his wife's head after she had attacked him with a metal bar he had brought home from school.

"I got the bar off her and I just started hitting her. I was just hitting her and hitting her and then I don't remember anything else.

"I had just gone mad – there's a blank. I thought at the time it was hundreds [of blows]. The next thing I knew she was on the floor. She wasn't breathing. I knew she was dead," Parnham said.

Passing sentence, Judge Richard Brown described the attack as "horrendous", adding: "This court has to balance the requirement to reflect public horror in the taking of a life in these circumstances with the view that the jury has taken of lack of intent.

"No sentence will ever reflect the value of the life you took and it cannot restore a loved one to her family and a mother to her children," the judge told the court. Parnham, who has two children, expressed no emotion as the judge passed sentence.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Parnham's wife had 73 external injuries.

Parnham, who had at first claimed two masked burglars attacked him and his wife, had confronted her when he realised she was sleeping with Mr Worth. The affair had begun when the two were playing in a school band for a pantomime. They swapped presents and Mr Worth, a guitarist, recorded his own love songs for Mrs Parnham. The Parnhams started arguing at their home in Ashington, West Sussex, when he questioned his wife about contraceptive pills he found in her handbag. He told the court: "I said how could you do this to me and the children. I said: 'You are a slag, you cannot sleep around with someone'."

Mr Worth, from Chichester, said he and Mrs Parnham "became friendly in a relatively short space of time" but she remained "very anxious" no- one should find out.

Parnham became suspicious because of the frequent telephone conversations between them.

On one occasion, he telephoned Mr Worth after tracing the call by dialling 1471. A "bizarre" conversation ensued about a sweater Mr Worth had left at Mr Parnham's home, the court heard.

Detective Inspector Steve Johns, who led the inquiry into Mrs Parnham's death, described the case as "very tragic". "A lot of very distressing evidence has come out and it must have been a very difficult time for all these people."