Jail for Sunday lunch killer

A husband who stabbed his wife to death with a kitchen knife as she prepared to leave him for his best friend has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

Gareth Lewis was on trial for murdering his 42-year-old wife Amanda in their Bury St Edmunds home, while he was preparing the Sunday roast.

However, following evidence that Lewis' mental state 'ruptured' leading up to the murder, the court accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

Present in the court throughout, clutching a picture of Mrs Lewis, was her lover Nigel Langfield. The relationship was cited as one cause of Lewis' deteriorating mental state.

Judge John Devaux, passing sentence on a 'tragic case for all concerned', said: "You are a man who effectively led a decent existence.

"You loved your family and everything was normal throughout life until 2004 when it began to fall apart desperately.

He added: "But for the illness he was suffering, this incident would not have taken place."

In the first dramatic two days of the trial the jury of seven women and five men heard harrowing evidence as they listened to a 999 call made by Lewis 30 seconds after he stabbed his wife on October 24 last year.

The ambulance operator was heard telling Lewis to staunch the single 15cm deep stab wound with a towel or cloth.

The unemployed agricultural engineer, speaking from the phone in their Fitzgerald Walk home, told the operator: "I have stabbed my wife. I stabbed her in the abdomen."

Members of her family in the public gallery wept in court as they heard Mrs Lewis' cries of pain as her husband put pressure on the wound.

During the trial, prosecutor Graham Parkins, QC, said Mrs Lewis was having an affair with Lewis' best friend and ex-boss, Nigel Langfield.

The night before the stabbing, she had gone out with her boyfriend to the Extreme bar, in Bury, and only returned to the family home at 5.30am.

When Lewis asked her who she was texting later that morning, she said 'Who do you think?', said Mr Parkins.

Mr Parkins told the jury Lewis had struck his wife with a single, powerful blow which pierced her liver, aorta and a vertebra.

"Amanda was unable to prevent the stabbing, probably because it happened so quickly," said Mr Parkins.

However, the jury was dismissed on Tuesday when both prosecution and defence medical experts agreed Lewis' mental state at the time of the stabbing was such, a plea of manslaughter was appropriate.

In mitigation, Patricia Lynch, QC, said Lewis had been made redundant from a job with Claas in September 2001 and became depressed by his long-term unemployment.

Although he got another job with Marlows, he lost that, too, just weeks before the fateful Sunday.

Lewis had visited his GP and was on antidepressants. He visited his GP three times in October, with one visit just three days before he stabbed his wife.

Arguments increased as his relationship with his wife, the 'only woman he loved' and childhood sweetheart, deteriorated.

"She said she wanted the house and the children and he was in no fit state to be a father," said Mrs Lynch.

During their final argument, Lewis told police: "She was shouting, shouting, shouting."

He said he turned around, clutching the knife, to find his wife staring at him. She looked down and he followed her gaze to find the knife sticking out of her stomach.

Mrs Lewis was taken to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury, by paramedics but she died that day from her injuries.