Husband murdered wife with fishing knives after she planned to leave him

A HUSBAND brutally murdered his wife with fishing knives and a guinea pig ornament after she planned to separate from him.

Joseph Richardson and his victim were found lying on a bed by a relative who thought they were both dead.

But when the couple's eldest daughter, Joanne Greenhill, arrived at the murder scene she saw Richardson open his eyes and realised he was breathing.

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The High Court in Edinburgh heard that she was "extremely distressed" by what she saw in the bedroom at the family home at Stoneybank Drive, Musselburgh, in East Lothian.

The court was told that on the day of the killing Richardson, 61, phoned a male friend of his wife from her youth, who she had been in touch with, and told him: "You are going to feel like I feel in a couple of hours time."

The first offender now faces a sentence of life imprisonment after admitting murdering his wife Janette on 27 November last year by repeatedly striking her on the head with an ornament and repeatedly striking her with a knife.

Advocate depute Joanna Cherry QC said mother-of-four Mrs Richardson, 57, married her husband in 1974 but by November last year there were "significant marital problems".

She said nurse Mrs Richardson was unhappy in the relationship and had indicated she intended to separate from her husband. She had got in contact with the friend from her younger days, Graham Walker, who lived in England, and kept in touch by calls, texts, through social networking site Facebook and, on occasion, meetings.

Ms Cherry said: "The accused found this state of affairs extremely distressing and blamed this man for the marriage break-up." She said he became deeply concerned that she might be about to begin a new relationship.

She added that Richardson, a self-employed joiner, had "reacted adversely" to a suggestion by his wife that if they were to divorce she would be entitled to a share of the marital home and his pension.

He began checking her mobile phone and following her and got contact details for her male friend from her handbag without her knowing.

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Mrs Richardson moved out of the marital home for a time but returned to look after him after a search was launched for him when he failed to return from walking his dogs. He was found lying on a path in woods, but later admitted to police it was an "attention seeking" exercise.

Richardson phoned Mr Walker on 27 November and told him, "You are going to feel like I feel" before hanging up.

Ms Cherry said the witness was distressed and concerned by the call and contacted the victim's eldest daughter. Her husband went to the Richardson home and found the couple lying with their heads together.

The advocate depute said: "There was blood on the pillow the deceased's head was resting upon and he assumed they were both dead."

He raised the alarm and went to fetch his wife. She saw a knife on the top of a chest of drawers and a ceramic guinea pig on the floor, covered in blood. She then realised that her father, who had self-inflicted injuries to his chest and neck made in an apparent suicide bid, was still alive.

The victim had suffered stab wounds to her neck, chest and chin along with blunt force injuries to her face and head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ms Cherry said: "Pathologists are of the view that the injuries sustained by the deceased are consistent with the explanation later given by the accused to police that he struck her head with a guinea pig ornament before stabbing her chest and cutting her throat."

Richardson told detectives that he had fetched two fishing knives from the garage and got the ornament from his younger daughter's bedroom. He said during an altercation with his wife about her meeting Mr Walker in England she got up to walk away and he hit her four or five times with the ornament.

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"He also admitted stabbing her on the body, chest and neck with one of the fishing knives and explained that in the initial struggle she had snapped the blade off one of the knives but nevertheless he managed to cut her throat," said Ms Cherry.

Richardson explained that finding train times in his wife's purse had been "the catalyst" and that he wished he could turn the clock back and that he loved his wife, she added.

But the court heard that in a note found at his bedside he had claimed: "She has given me a lot of mental tortcher (torture)." He had also written another note which stated: "He will never get my wife or my four children."

The advocate depute said the victim was "a much loved mother and grandmother". She added: "She also leaves behind her two brothers and a sister who have also been greatly affected by the loss of their sister and the manner of her death."

Defence counsel Mark Stewart QC said that given the nature of the case and "the tragic circumstances" a background report on Richardson would be beneficial.

The judge, Lord Doherty, who will have to fix a minimum term Richardson must serve under a life sentence for the murder, continued the case for sentencing to August.