Priti Patel orders review into lockdown killing of woman by husband

Priti Patel has ordered a review into the case of a woman who was killed by her husband during the UK’s first lockdown.

The home secretary was “not satisfied” with Torfaen council’s conclusion that there were no “lessons to be learned” from the death of Ruth Williams.

Ms Williams, 67, was strangled to death by Anthony Williams, 70, at their home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on March 28 last year.

He was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter diminished responsibility. A jury cleared him of murder after hearing evidence his mental state was “severely affected” by depression and anxiety.

The trial judge said there was no evidence of any previous domestic violence and Torfaen council decided not to carry out a domestic homicide review into the circumstances surrounding the death.

Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins said: “This was an appalling case and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ruth Williams.

“Having personally reviewed this case, the home secretary is not satisfied with the conclusions reached by Torfaen County Borough Council Public Service Board that there are no lessons to be learned from this tragic death.

“That is why she has written to the board to instruct it to establish a domestic homicide review.”

Ms Patel has used her powers under section 9(3) of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to order the review.

Campaigners have also criticised the five year jail term as too lenient, while Labour called for the case to be referred to the Court of Appeal.

Gwendolyn Sterk, a spokesperson for Welsh Women’s Aid, a leading domestic abuse charity, said: “We want assurance action will be taken to ensure a precedent is not set that allows domestic abuse and homicide to be seen as an inevitable result of the current restrictions.”

Additional reporting by PA

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