Man strangled his wife while in deadly grip of 'nightmares'
Sleep disorder husband believed he was wrestling with violent intruder
Published 16/12/2010 | 05:00
A grief-stricken husband unwittingly strangled his wife during a violent nightmare then called the police to report the killing, an inquest heard yesterday.
Brian Thomas (60) believed he was wrestling an intruder who had broken into his camper van and was threatening his wife.
He awoke to discover he was alone with the dead body of wife Christine (57) next to him.
After failing to revive her he called the police and said: "Can you send someone. I think I have killed my wife. I think I have killed her. Oh my God."
The tragedy happened during a summer break when the couple had stopped for the night in a pub car park in Aberporth, west Wales, in July 2008.
An inquest in Aberystwyth, Wales, heard that Mr Thomas suffered from a long-standing sleep disorder and occasionally had "night terrors".
On the night in question boy racers had turned up at the car park doing wheel spins and revving their cars.
The couple had moved to the upper end of the car park but when Mr Thomas slept the experience triggered a violent nightmare.
He dreamed a man wearing blue jeans and a fleece jacket had broken into the van and was on top of his wife.
Struggling to protect her he dreamed he was grappling with the intruder only to wake and discover he had strangled her.
He was discovered outside the camper van in a "deeply distraught" state after reporting the killing himself.
He told police: "I think I have strangled her. I was fighting with this boy but there was no boy, it was my wife."
Det Insp Evans said Mr Thomas was eventually arrested and charged with his wife's murder and told the police: "I wouldn't, couldn't and didn't."
The father of two went on trial at Swansea Crown Court in November last year.
Within days the case against him collapsed.
From the outset both sides agreed he suffered from a sleeping disorder and was not responsible for his actions.
When the case against him was dropped the trial judge directed the jury to bring in a formal not guilty verdict.
The coroner said he hoped the conclusion of the inquest would afford a degree of closure to Mr Thomas and his family who had "endured untold anguish" following the untimely death of his wife.