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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK


Man who killed 'nagging wife' jailed

David Hampson buried his wife's body in the garden of their home

A man who killed his "nagging wife" with a hammer before burying her body in the garden has been jailed for six years.

David Hampson, 42, of March, Cambridgeshire, kept up the pretence that his wife, Claire, was still alive for more than two years after her killing in September, 1996.

He told neighbours and his eight-year-old daughter Felicity, that his 42-year-old wife had packed her bags and left him.

The prosecution accepted a plea of not guilty to murder after Hampson admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.

'Downward spiral'

In court, Brian Escott-Cox QC, defending, said the couple's 10 year marriage was characterised by incessant nagging on her part and a "downward spiral of self-esteem" on his.

Michael Pert QC, prosecuting, said things had come to a head with a blazing row during which Hampson had taken a club hammer and inflicted three fatal blows to the side of Mrs Hampson's head.

The next morning, the court heard, Hampson dug an 18-inch deep shallow grave in the garden by the side of the house, wrapped his wife's body in a dust sheet and buried her.

He then wove an intricate web of deception to dupe her family into thinking she was still alive, but eventually confessed to police after relatives became suspicious.

'Killing cannot be tolerated'

Sentencing him at Northampton Crown Court, Judge Francis Allen said: "I have to bear in mind that society has a concern for human life and that such a killing cannot be tolerated, even accepting that your wife behaved in a way which was calculated to impact on your mind.

He went on: "It is said that you suffered at the hands of this woman in a variety of ways and that you were provoked into doing what you did, but I have to bear in mind in passing sentence that you got a hammer and killed her with it."

He added that Hampson had been given credit in sentencing for his "frankness" in admitting his crime to police.

Psychiatric reports were also produced to show that Hampson was suffering from a depressive illness apparently brought on by his wife's behaviour, which disappeared after her death.

But later Mrs Hampson's family claimed that the "nagging wife" portrayal was a distortion of the truth and said they were angered by the case.

Her brother-in-law, Alex Bryce, 73, said: "We feel Claire's character has been virtually destroyed by the way the case has been presented in court. It was as if it was Claire who was on trial."

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