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Friday, January 16, 1998 Published at 19:51 GMT


Vicar jailed for 'inexplicable crime'
image: [ The Golightlys walk to court together ]
The Golightlys walk to court together

A Church of England vicar accused of trying to kill his wife in an apparently motiveless hammer attack has been jailed for five years.

The Rev. Michael Golightly, 54, was acquitted of attempted murder by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court but convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

[ image: Enid Golightly: broke down after verdict]
Enid Golightly: broke down after verdict
As sentence was passed, Golightly's wife Enid, 55, the victim of the attack who had supported her husband throughout the trial, broke down.

"God please, oh god no, I can't believe it. Why?" she screamed. "He is a good husband to me, he has been so good to me, please, please, please."

'Inexplicable crime'

In sentencing Golightly, Mr Justice Sedley said: "The jury have convicted you on what I am bound to say was compelling evidence.

"This is an inexplicable crime. From start to finish no possible motive has been found for this act which comes in middle-age after a lifetime of exemplary service to others."

The Bishop of Jarrow, speaking after visiting Golightly in the cells (0-16")
The judge then said he had borne in mind that the cleric had been acquitted of the more serious charge of attempted murder.

He had also taken into account Mrs Golightly's "continued devotion and loyalty" but said a custodial sentence was in the public interest.

A number of jurors were clearly distressed after delivering the verdict. The judge reassured them they had done their duty and offered counselling.

Hammer blow

During the trial the court had heard how Mrs Golightly had almost died after being struck a single blow with a one-and-a-half pound hammer while she was asleep in bed.

The blow that fractured her skull was so severe that fragments of bone were pushed 30mm into her brain.

[ image:  ]
Golightly, who had pleaded not guilty to both charges, told the jury that he had found his wife lying naked in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs in their four bedroomed house.

Barry Stewart, defending barrister, told the jury that they could not rule out the possibility that an undiscovered intruder had delivered the blow.

Mrs Golightly stated that she could not remember what had happened on the day in question and took to the stand to express her continued love for her husband.

Giving evidence for the defence she told the jury: "I love him very much, we are very happy together ... I know he would not do anything like this to me."

Bishop's 'deep regret'

[ image: Smithson:
Smithson: "unanswered questions"
The Bishop of Jarrow, The Right Rev Alan Smithson, said in a prepared statement after the case: "We are all deeply concerned at this whole incident.

"It is a very sad case indeed with many unanswered questions. The church deeply regrets one of its clergy being in such a situation as this. It is obviously too early to be specific about the future, we shall be discussing that in due course."

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