Pensioner cleared of murder after beating disabled husband to death

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An elderly woman who beat her wheelchair-bound husband to death with a wooden pole as he lay in bed has been cleared of murder.

Kanagusabi Ramanathan, 76, called out “don’t hit me” as his wife Packiam Ramanathan attacked him on 21 September last year, the Old Bailey heard.

The 73-year-old pensioner denied murdering her husband but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, citing his bullying and abusive behaviour throughout their 35-year marriage.

Mr Ramanathan, a former shopkeeper, was found dead in bed by paramedics at his home in Newham, east London, after the defendant told her neighbour she had hit him.

He had suffered serious head injuries and multiple wounds to the body and neck as well as other wounds on his arms and hands from trying to defend himself.

A blood-stained wooden stick was found in a cupboard in the hall of the couple’s flat.

Giving evidence, Ramanathan told jurors she lost control after suffering years of physical and verbal abuse by her husband, who she claims threw sticks at her.

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She also said he accused her of having an affair with a fishmonger.

She told the court: “It was like I was in a trance. I hit him. I do not know. I did not know what I was doing. I could not feel this. I remember him saying don’t hit me. I remember I hit him.

“I lost control at that time. I did not plan anything. I’m not a person who would do such a thing.”

Before the attack, Ramanathan had become “very angry” at finding out her husband had written to Sri Lankan police accusing her brother of fraud and theft, according to the prosecution.

Sally O’Neill QC said the couple argued over money and there was “no doubt” Ramanathan intended to cause her husband serious harm.

She added that the “brutal and sustained attack” was “probably motivated by anger”.

Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, insisted the killing was unplanned.

He suggested that if the defendant had wanted to kill her diabetic husband, she could have given him a bigger dose of insulin and “no one would have known”.

He said: “The fact it was done in the way it was – with a stick – means there was no planning.

“She is frail she is slight she is getting on for anorexic weight. It’s hard to beat someone to death with a stick when you are that size”.

Mr Kamlish urged jurors to acquit her of murder, saying: “After the hell of this trial, the hell of 36 years of abuse, you can show what you think of this prosecution and do the right thing by coming to a very fast verdict.”

After deliberating for half an hour, the jury found Ramanathan not guilty of murder.

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