'Wife didn't deserve to die' says manslaughter accused

A haulage boss who crushed his jealous wife to death under the wheels of his 26-ton truck following a drunken, violent row told a court today: "She didn't deserve to die."

Graeme Lamb's voice choked with emotion as he told a jury Josephine Lamb's death "should never have happened".

The 48-year-old denies manslaughter and the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit.

Newcastle Crown Court heard his wife, known as Jo, had a jealous streak, was prone to destructive outbursts and frequently lashed out when she believed he was in contact with other women.

She regularly checked his mobile, made him sack a female employee and smashed up their caravan home at the stables, livery yard and haulage business he ran in Wardley, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

In July last year, after the couple had been drinking, she flew into another jealous rage and, during a row, grabbed him on the site of his recent appendix operation, the court heard.

He got in his Scania flat-bed lorry in a bid to stop it being smashed, he told the jury.

She tried to stop him leaving and opened the cab door to grab the keys, but he pushed her out.

She had already shut the yard gates he had opened to stop him leaving.

Lamb told the court he rolled the lorry up to the gates, and did not see his wife, and pushed them open by slowly increasing the pressure on them with the cab.

The court heard she was run over by the lorry and went under its wheels.

He felt a bump, he said, and at first believed he had hit the couple's dog.

It was only when he stopped to get out that he realised what had happened, he said.

He immediately rang 999, telling the operator Mrs Lamb, 58, had jumped in front of his lorry.

He told the jury he said that because that was the only logical explanation for how she ended up under the wheels.

Jamie Hill QC, defending, asked how he felt when he saw his wife's crushed body.

With his head bowed, Lamb replied: "You can see my feelings now."

Asked to put into words how he now felt about his wife's death, he replied: "It should never have happened.

"She didn't deserve to die."

The jury heard that during one fit of jealousy, Mrs Lamb filled the bath in their caravan with food and family mementoes.

He said: "She emptied all the cereal, soup, all the food in the cupboards, anything possible, family photos, into the bath."

On another occasion his clothes were snipped in two, paintings were smashed and windscreens broken, he said.

The couple, who got together while both previously married, had been happy, but the relationship was failing, he said.

While he denied having any affairs, he could see why she was jealous.

"I understood her insecurity," he told the jury. "She was the other woman in the first marriage, she was 10 years older than me. I kind of understood where she was coming from," he said.

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