Man jailed for murdering his wife while she slept

John Chapman Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption The body of John Chapman's wife was found in a bedroom at the home they shared in Clacton-on-Sea

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his 81-year-old wife while she slept.

Jean Chapman was found dead in a bedroom at the property in Vista Road, in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex on 12 June.

The judge at Chelmsford Crown Court described it as a "merciless, sustained attack on a defenceless woman who stood no chance as she slept".

John Chapman, 72, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, told the court Chapman had killed his wife by "cracking her on the head with a wooden vase" before strangling her.

"Asked what had happened, he said basically 'there have been problems, I've been trying to kill myself but I couldn't do it as I was thinking about what she would do when I'm gone'," Mr Jackson said.

Chapman called police who found him sitting on a sofa in the living room and the body of his wife in their bedroom.

A post-mortem examination showed she had died from severe head injuries.

'Brutal and savage'

Mr Jackson said Chapman had tried to throw himself from a balcony "but was unable to do so".

The court heard the couple had been married for more than 35 years and had no children together, but Mrs Chapman had two sons from a previous marriage and was a grandmother.

Judge Charles Gratwicke, sentencing, said Chapman killed his wife in a "brutal and savage way".

Craig Rush, mitigating, said Chapman pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had a depressive illness.

Det Insp Stuart Truss from Essex Police said: "Although he admitted killing her, he has not given any reason as to why he did it.

"I hope this sentence will provide some solace to Jean's family and help them move forward."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites