Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Gambling addict 'drove over wife'

A civil servant addicted to gambling ran over his wife in an attempt to kill her to avoid losing everything in their divorce, a court has heard.

Martin Hewlett, 45, knocked estranged wife Anne, 36, off her bicycle in Worthing, West Sussex, then drove back over her body, leaving her for dead.

Hove Crown Court was told Mrs Hewlett was badly injured and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Mr Hewlett, of Guildford Road, Worthing, denies attempted murder.

Prosecutor Richard Barton told the court Mr Hewlett stole the van and used it as a weapon against his wife as she rode home late at night on 29 February, 2008.

It was the desperate act of a gambler, a last roll of the dice

Richard Barton

He said that Mr Hewlett then turned the van round and deliberately ran over his estranged wife's body as she lay defenceless in the road.

"The defendant had planned it for months," said Mr Barton.

"It was an attempt on his part to avoid losing everything as a result of their ongoing divorce matrimonial finance proceedings, which were due to be heard four days after the attack."

The court was told Mr Hewlett met his Danish wife in the early 1990s when she was working as an au pair.

The couple married in 1994 and had two children but Mr Hewlett kept his finances separate and had a secret "severe gambling addiction" which led him into "greater and greater debt".

In 2000, he secured a 30,000 loan against their home, then in 2004 increased the mortgage to 130,475 by forging his wife's signature.

He also took out a life insurance policy without his wife's knowledge paying out a lump sum of 125,625 in the event of either death.

Multiple fractures

Theatre nurse Mrs Hewlett petitioned for divorce in August 2007, some months after finding out about his financial deceit.

Mr Barton said Mrs Hewlett sustained severe "life-threatening" injuries when she was run over in Canterbury Road.

She had multiple rib and neck fractures, bleeding in her internal organs and paralysis to the lower half of her body.

"It was the desperate act of a gambler, a last roll of the dice... knowing he had everything to lose at the forthcoming divorce hearing," said Mr Barton.

Mr Hewlett was arrested the day after the crash, then released on bail before being arrested again in July.

The trial continues.

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