Woman who killed brutal husband is spared jail

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The Independent Online
A battered wife who stabbed her bullying husband to death walked free from court yesterday after a judge said she had borne seven years of violence with "truly remarkable patience".

Leeds Crown Court heard that when Marjorie Tooley, 53, stabbed her drunken husband, Peter, through the heart it was the final straw in a catalogue of degradation and violence.

Mrs Tooley, a pub landlady, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of provocation, endured seven years of physical assaults, including punches, kicks while she was on the ground, being strangled until she almost passed out and having her head banged against walls, said Mukhtar Hussain QC, defending.

Mrs Tooley, who was sentenced to three years' probation, was frequently locked in the cellar by her 53-year-old husband. He often urinated or defecated in the bed or on a table and ordered her to clean it up.

Mr Tooley, who had five chidren, died on his wife's 53rd birthday, when she held a party at their pub, the Cock and Bottle, Barkerend Road, Bradford. He became very drunk.

The court heard that the couple went upstairs and soon after Mrs Tooley, hysterical, rang her daughter, saying: "I think I've killed Peter. I didn't mean to do it - it was an accident."

Mrs Tooley told police that her husband had been shouting abuse at her, calling her a "slag and a prostitute", as she was buttering a teacake in the kitchen. He ordered her into the living room and raised his fist at her, and she stabbed him.

Sentencing her to three years' probation on condition that she receives psychiatric help, Mr Justice Ognall told her: "You bore that chronicle of cruelty with truly remarkable patience and even more remarkable loyalty." The sentence "should most emphatically not be seen as a licence to kill".

Sandra McNeill, of Justice for Women, which has supported Mrs Tooley throughout the case, called for the Government now to consider an amnesty for all women currently serving life for killing violent men.