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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Wife gets life for 'dance' murder
Linda West
Linda West had been married for nine weeks when she shot her husband
A woman who claimed she accidentally shot her husband dead while dancing to a Shania Twain song has been jailed for life for his murder.

Linda West, 49, said she was dancing drunkenly while holding a shotgun when it went off.

But the prosecution said she had loaded the weapon and deliberately shot Gregory West, 45, at their Southampton flat in May last year.

West was told she would have to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison.

She was found guilty by a jury last week after a two-and-a-half week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

In that short period of drunken madness you took the life of a man you cared for deeply and in doing so utterly ruined your life
Judge Guy Boney QC

The trial was a re-trial because the jury in the first case failed to reach a verdict on the murder charge and an alternative count of manslaughter, both of which West had denied.

Giving evidence at Winchester Crown Court during the trial, West said she and her husband of only nine weeks were drunk when he decided she should dance to the song with the shotgun.

She said she banged it on the floor at the abrupt end of the song so as to "take a bow" and the gun, which an expert found to have a faulty safety catch, went off.

The blast hit her husband, a marine engineer, in the heart, killing him instantly as he sat in a chair.

The prosecution said she had loaded her husband's double-barrelled gun and shot him at close range because of a heated row that evening.

Unplanned killing

Several neighbours reported hearing the argument and eventually the loud bang of the weapon firing.

Judge Guy Boney QC, told West: "Your account of a happy domestic evening cannot be true.

"That must be the reason why the jury disregarded your account of an erotic dance which ended in the discharge of the shotgun.

"This wasn't an arranged or planned killing, it occurred, if not on the spur of the moment, but with very little forethought on your behalf.

"In that short period of drunken madness you took the life of a man you cared for deeply and in doing so utterly ruined your life."

In a witness impact statement read to the court, Mr West's mother Clare described how her husband, David, who suffered from leukaemia had died six months after his son's killing.

She said her husband had felt responsible for what had happened because he had given the shotgun to his son.




SEE ALSO
Woman guilty of shooting husband
08 Jun 06 |  Hampshire
Wife shows how she shot husband
31 May 06 |  Hampshire

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