England

Elizabeth Hart-Browne cleared of murdering boyfriend

Elizabeth Hart-Browne leaving the court Image copyright PA
Image caption The jury in the six-week trial took 15 hours to find Miss Hart-Browne not guilty of murder

A woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend with a kitchen knife has been cleared of his murder after telling jurors she feared he would kill her.

Elizabeth Hart-Browne, 27, broke down in tears as she was cleared of all charges at the Old Bailey.

Miss Hart-Browne cried "I have just killed the man I love" after stabbing Stephen Rayner, 25, on 17 September in Acton, west London.

The mother of two said he had hit her and grabbed her by the throat.

The court heard that with young children sleeping feet away, she picked up a large kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Rayner three times, inflicting a fatal wound to the neck.

Mr Rayner staggered outside and collapsed in a pool of blood as neighbours rushed to help.

Meanwhile, Miss Hart-Browne, who worked as a jewellery designer, said she panicked and went back to clean the knife and clear up blood around the television.

When the police arrived at their home, Miss Hart-Browne was hysterical telling officers: "I didn't mean to do it, I'm so sorry.

"I have just killed the man I love."

The jury in the six-week trial took 15 hours to find Miss Hart-Browne not guilty of murder.

'Charles Bronson fascination'

The court heard a row erupted after Miss Hart-Browne came home from a family party.

Miss Hart-Browne told jurors she regretted not just going to bed when she got home that night. She said if she had, Mr Rayner, originally from Bournemouth, would still be alive.

The jury was also told of the couple's volatile six-year relationship, during which Mr Rayner had attacked the defendant many times.

After one incident outside Liquid nightclub in Uxbridge in 2012, Mr Rayner threatened to throw himself into the Thames and went on to plead guilty to battery.

In 2015, Miss Hart-Browne said she had become so fearful she took out life insurance because "I believed I was in danger of him killing me and I didn't want my kids to be left with nothing".

The defendant, who was described as having had a troubled upbringing in Somerset, said her boyfriend would take on the persona of his hero Charles Bronson during his terrifying attacks.

She said: "He had a fascination with Charles Bronson. He liked his aggression.

"There were lots of stories about him attacking prisoners and guards.

"He would take on that persona sometimes when he was angry.

"His whole accent changed, his whole being would change and I couldn't get through to him."

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