North East Wales

Body in boot trial: John Yates 'brutally murdered wife'

John Yates
Image caption John Yates admits his wife's manslaughter but denies murder

A "violent" man turned up at a North Wales Police traffic base with his estranged wife's body in his car boot after he killed her, a court has heard.

John Yates, 58, told an officer in St Asaph, Denbighshire: "I need to hand myself in please, I have killed my wife," Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

Barbara Yates, 49, was beaten to death in "brutal" fashion, the court heard.

The defendant, from Warrington, Cheshire, admits manslaughter of the mother-of-two, but denies murder.

The couple were married for 18 years before she left him in 2009 and jurors heard he was jealous of her new life.

"He had been violent towards her in the past," Wyn Lloyd Jones, prosecuting, said. "He had displayed towards her a temperament which was controlling and possessive.

"He had shown he was jealous. When the defendant was interviewed by the police after his arrest he told them he didn't want to share."

The court was told that previously Mrs Yates had told her sister that her husband had locked her in a cupboard.

In 1987 she was admitted to hospital after he allegedly punched her repeatedly, tried to strangle her, and banged her head on a car dashboard.

In 2009 Mrs Yates decided she could take no more and left the defendant, but he was jealous of her new life, jurors were told.

'Prolonged assault'

In 2011 the court heard she was taken to hospital after a "prolonged assault" by him. At one stage he got a hammer and hit her over the head.

"Fortunately, it wasn't with great force," Mr Lloyd Jones told the jury of eight women and four men. "He screamed at her 'you are going to die bitch'."

Mr Yates had allegedly placed his hand over her mouth so she could not breathe but eventually she managed to calm him.

"She thought she was going to die is what she told a police officer," the prosecutor said. Her face was bloodied and bruised and a friend said she hardly recognised her.

Mrs Yates, a taxi escort for disabled children, had described how her husband went berserk after being refused sex. But she withdrew a complaint against him.

Seven months later, on 18 July, she was killed. Mr Yates had been on police bail following an incident 13 days earlier when he stole 35 pairs of shoes and a new dress from her home, the court was told. He had put them on a bonfire.

Mr Lloyd Jones told the jury how Mr Yates had turned up in his Peugeot 306 estate at the North Wales police traffic base at St Asaph where he spoke to a chief inspector.

'Mental health issues'

Image caption Barbara Yates had suffered years of abuse, the court heard

He told the officer: "I need to hand myself in please, I have killed my wife. I have just had enough. I have mental health issues. She is in the back of the car".

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers concluded that there had been a prolonged assault and Mrs Yates suffered "severe blunt force head, face and neck injuries."

Bones in her face had been shattered and there were multiple internal skull fractures.

The doctor said there had been multiple blows using a weapon and from punches, and manual strangling. A hand may have been placed over the mouth.

During police interviews, Mr Yates claimed he had not intended to kill his wife but said he had "lost my head."

Mr Lloyd Jones added: "The issue is whether it was murder or manslaughter. The defendant apparently will be advancing a defence of loss of control."

The trial continues.

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