A pensioner who strangled his wife to death just days into the first national Covid lockdown has been cleared of her murder.
Retired factory worker Anthony Williams, 70, told police he “literally choked the living daylights” out of his wife Ruth, 67, at their home in Cwmbran, Torfaen on March 28 last year.
Williams told police he had suffered sleepless nights in the run-up to the attack due to “trivial” fears including that he would run out of money because he was not able to attend his bank to take out cash from his savings.
In interviews read to the jury, Williams agreed with detectives that he was responsible for the killing of his wife of 46 years, telling them he “snapped” after they had an argument.
He said he chased her downstairs and grabbed her by her throat as she tried to unlock the front door to escape, saying he found himself “throttling her to death”.
Mrs Williams was found slumped in the couple’s porch with a pair of keys in her hand. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Her cause of death was given as pressure to the neck, with a pathologist saying the lack of a ligature mark did not rule out use of a “soft” dressing gown cord found at their home.
Williams was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and told officers: “I am sorry, I just snapped, I am sorry.”
The couple’s daughter, Emma Williams, 40, told the court her parents spent “90 per cent of their time together”, were “not argumentative people”, and she had never heard either of them even “raise their voice” to each other.
But she said Williams had shown signs of strange behaviour from January 2020, including claiming he was going to lose the couple’s home and becoming “obsessed” with turning off lights and heating to save money.
Williams did not give evidence at his trial, but he told police interviewers he had worried about being unable to buy new shoes and the inability to hire someone to fix tiles on his roof if they came loose.
He also said he had found lockdown “really, really hard” just five days into the UK-wide restrictions and felt “depressed”.
He said he had coped “not very well” in the 18 months since his retirement from his job as a factory worker, saying the couple “didn’t have much of a social life”.
Psychologist Dr Alison Witts argued his anxiety and depressive illness were “heightened” by the tough coronavirus measures imposed on the UK days earlier and impaired his ability to exercise self-control.
Dr Witts said Williams’ factory job had been “one of his main coping mechanisms” for his “neurotic disposition”.
On Monday, the jury at Swansea Crown Court unanimously found Williams not guilty of murder.
Williams, from Brynglas, Cwmbran, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
Judge Paul Thomas said he would sentence Williams on Thursday.