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Spurned husband ‘stabbed and battered his wife to death when she left him after 50 years’

A spurned husband stabbed and battered his estranged wife to death after she left him for an old flame she reconnected with on Facebook after more than 50 years together, a court heard.

David Thomas, 74, allegedly murdered Sheila Thomas, 69, at their former marital home in Herne Hill, southeast London, when she returned to collect some belongings.

She had called an end to the marriage around a month earlier, telling her new partner that life with Thomas had ‘been hell’ and describing how she had been unhappily wed for 40 years.

Jurors heard Mrs Thomas was not expecting her estranged partner to be home that day after he promised in a phone call the night before he would not be in when she arrived.

David Thomas, 74, allegedly murdered Sheila Thomas (pictured), 69, at their marital home

‘But that was a lie,’ said prosecutor Brian O’Neill QC.

‘He was there, waiting for her, waiting to kill her.’

Jurors were told that in the month or so since she had left him, Thomas ‘had spoken to a friend about getting hold of a gun’.

‘As things turned out he was able to accomplish his objective of killing his wife of more than 50 years by stabbing her with a kitchen knife and bludgeoning her with a large piece of wood in one of the bedrooms of their home,’ Mr O’Neill said.

Mrs Thomas began seeing one of her son's fathers Victor Cassar (pictured) and ended her marriage to Thomas

Mrs Thomas began seeing one of her son’s fathers Victor Cassar (pictured) and ended her marriage to Thomas

Shortly before the killing on July 24 last year Mrs Thomas struck up a relationship with a friend of one of her son’s fathers, Victor Cassar, whom she knew when she was a teenager.

‘When the defendant discovered the relationship between Mrs Thomas and Mr Cassar she moved out of the family home at the defendant’s insistence and moved in with Mr Cassar,’ the prosecutor said.

‘This appears to have been on or around 28 June, just a month before she died.

‘Mrs Thomas was to tell Victor Cassar that life with the defendant had ‘been hell’ and that she had been unhappy in her marriage for 40 years.

When she returned to Mr Thomas' home to collect belongings he allegedly killed her

When she returned to Mr Thomas’ home to collect belongings he allegedly killed her

‘When her sons and daughters asked their mother why she had left their father she said similar things to them.’

Jurors heard that in the weeks following the separation Thomas pestered one of his sons-in-law in an attempt to find out where his wife was living.

When the relative made up an address to avoid revealing the actual one Thomas asked if he could borrow a car so that his own would not be recognised when he paid a visit.

Mr O’Neill said Thomas must have visited the fictitious address because he later berated his daughter’s husband for lying to him.

Neither he nor Thomas’ three daughters thought he would have harmed his wife whom he wed in 1966, he added.

Jurors heard Mrs Thomas was not expecting her estranged partner to be home that day after he promised in a phone call the night before he would not be in

Jurors heard Mrs Thomas was not expecting her estranged partner to be home that day after he promised in a phone call the night before he would not be in

‘Indeed, they seemed to be more concerned that he would harm himself as a consequence of how low he was feeling following the breakdown of the marriage,’ said the prosecutor.

But about a week before the murder Thomas approached a friend of his ‘and asked him whether he could get a gun for him’.

Jurors heard the man ‘believed the defendant was being deadly serious’ and went to see Thomas’ son-in-law to try and find out what was going on.

But the matter was never passed on to any of Mrs Thomas’ daughters due to his belief the pensioner would never have harmed her.

On the day she died, Mrs Thomas was dropped around the corner from the house at around 11.30am by Mr Cassar who was anxious to avoid any sort of confrontation with Thomas.

A short while later a neighbour out doing some gardening heard a male voice shouting: ‘Tell me where you live, tell me where you f**king live.’

In between jurors were told he could hear a woman who sounded as though she was in pain pleading: ‘Let me go, let go of me.’

After dozens more similar demands, the neighbour reported hearing the man threaten: ‘I’m going to break your f**king neck.’

As he called 999, the court was told the man could hear ‘a series of perfectly placed dull thuds’.

‘At first,’ each one was accompanied by a whimpering noise but after the first few blows that noise evaporated and there was just the continuing sound of blows,’ Mr O’Neill said.

Police arrived soon after but Thomas initially refused to answer the door, the court heard.

Mr O’Neill said the pensioner was stalling ‘in order to give himself time to injure himself by stabbing his torso a number of times’.

He told officers he had been stabbed during a fight and Mrs Thomas was upstairs, jurors heard.

Thomas, of Casino Avenue, Herne Hill, southeast London, denies murder.

The trial continues. 

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