Judge frees man who strangled wife in row

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The Independent Online
A ruling which allowed a husband who strangled his wife to walk free yesterday was criticised as 'a licence for men to kill', writes Will Bennett.

Alan Hunt, convicted of the manslaughter of his wife Diane as they argued in their car, was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years by Judge Kenneth Taylor at Stafford Crown Court after a plea for clemency from her family.

Hunt, 38, a salesman from Telford in Shropshire, had denied murder. Before he was sentenced, William Andreae-Jones QC, defending, read the judge a letter written by Mrs Hunt's sister Sally Beeching.

She wrote: 'Alan has always been a kind and caring husband. Although the pain and grief of Diane's death stays with us, a prison sentence will not console us, only add to our suffering.'

The court had heard that Hunt, who had had three affairs, had been found out by his wife when she discovered contraceptives in his briefcase. He said he accidentally strangled her during a row after leaving a hospital where he was treated for injuries she had caused to his nose.

But Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, which provides a home for women fleeing violent partners, said: 'This is a licence for men to kill their wives or partners.'