Peter Hicks murdered wife over home repossession

Peter Hicks
Image caption The judge said the killing was "a deeply selfish act"

A Bristol man strangled his wife rather than tell her that their house was about to be repossessed.

Peter Hicks pleaded guilty to murdering Marlene, his wife of 30 years, on 15 November last year, the week before he was due to be tried.

Bristol Crown Court heard Hicks, 64, and his wife ran a florists which ran into debt.

It was secured against their home in Air Balloon Road in St George, which faced imminent repossession.

Judge Neil Ford QC, Recorder of Bristol, said there was "significant evidence" that Hicks and his wife were "a devoted and loving couple".

The court heard the couple lost their home and bailiffs were due to arrive.

"It seemed clear that you had not kept Marlene informed of that imminent crisis," Judge Ford said.

"Knowing the pain the loss of your home would cause her, you decided to kill her."

'Deeply selfish'

The court heard Hicks had killed his wife by compressing her neck with a dressing gown cord.

The judge said the killing was "a deeply selfish act"

"You gave Marlene no chance and needlessly took her life," he said.

The judge accepted that Hicks was suffering from "some kind of depression" at the time of the killing.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said Hicks had called the force to tell them that he had killed his wife but refused to tell officers where he was.

Image caption Mrs Hicks was killed at the house in Air Balloon Road, St George, on 15 November

Following a search, he was arrested in the Devon and Cornwall Police area.

Judge Ford said that Hicks, who was of previous good character, felt "remorse for his actions and self-loathing".

"It is your intention, should you be given the opportunity, to take your own life," he told him.

"This was a needless taking of an innocent life which has caused immeasurable loss to the family and friends of Marlene."

He sentenced Hicks to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 13 years, minus the 174 days he has already spend in custody.

Det Insp Joe Goff, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Nothing can bring Marlene back but I hope that the sentence today goes some way to help her family adjust to this terrible ordeal which has left them facing the future without a much-loved sister and aunt."

Alivia Harvey, Mrs Hicks' niece said: "The last six months have been very distressing and hearing the sentence today is realisation of how sadly Marlene's life was taken.

"We would like to thank the police for all their hard work and the support they have given us.

"Marlene will be remembered with fondness and love."

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