Tuesday 22 October 2019

Man who murdered his wife with crowbar in 'frenzied attack' before pretending he found her body is jailed

David Pomphret is facing a life sentence after being convicted of the murder of his wife
Photo credit: Cheshire Police/PA Wire
David Pomphret is facing a life sentence after being convicted of the murder of his wife Photo credit: Cheshire Police/PA Wire
Ann Marie Pomphret Photo credit: Cheshire Police/PA Wire

Pat Hurst

A "quiet man" who bludgeoned his wife to death with a crowbar in a "frenzied" attack is facing a life sentence for murder after being "undone" by a speck of blood on his sock.

Computer expert David Pomphret, 51, battered Ann Marie, 49, with the weapon, striking her more than 30 times over the head at the stables where they kept horses near their home in Winwick, Cheshire, last November 2.

He dialled 999, saying he had found his wife lying in a pool of blood, "very dead", adding: "There is brain and blood everywhere, and it looks like she has had her head beaten in."

He initially protested his innocence and was released on bail.

Pomphret denied that he planned the murder and then tried to cover his tracks.

He told the jury at Liverpool Crown Court: "One of Marie's favourite TV programmes was CSI and one of the things they always said is you can't get rid of blood."

Ann Marie Pomphret Photo credit: Cheshire Police/PA Wire
Ann Marie Pomphret Photo credit: Cheshire Police/PA Wire

But he was re-arrested after police found his wife's "airborne blood" on his socks, a "huge mistake" which put him at the scene of the crime.

He then had to change his story, the jury was told, and admitted manslaughter, tearfully telling the court he "killed the woman I loved".

Instead, he blamed his wife's behaviour, denying murder and claiming a "special defence" of a temporary loss of control.

But he was convicted of murder by the jury on Friday following a 10-day trial.

Pomphret gave no reaction as the chairman of the jury delivered the unanimous guilty verdict following 10 hours, 42 minutes of deliberations.

His daughter, Megan, 18, watched from the public gallery, supported by friends and police officers.

Judge David Aubrey told Pomphret: "You have been convicted by the jury of the crime of the murder of your wife. There can only be one sentence - a sentence of life imprisonment."

He said he would set the minimum term before the defendant is eligible for parole when he passes sentence next Tuesday.

Pomphret, a former civil servant, was claimed to be at "breaking point", the jury was told, after suffering years of violence and abuse from his "volatile" wife during their 22-year marriage.

He bludgeoned her to death but claimed to remember nothing of the attack.

The Barclays bank IT worker washed the blood off his hands, threw the crowbar in a pond and burned and discarded bloodstained clothes.

But he had failed to get rid of his socks, which would "come back to haunt him", the jury heard.

Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "One huge, huge mistake -this man did not get rid of his socks.

"Without the socks, there is no forensic evidence linking him to the scene.

"The huge mistake was he did not get rid of his socks. There was airborne blood that put him at the scene of the murder.

"Now he's at a scenario he was at the scene. What's the next least worst alternative? Loss of self-control."

Pomphret had tried to "pull the wool" over the jury's eyes by claiming he simply lost control due to his wife's behaviour, Mr Cole said.

The trial heard that the couple met on Mrs Pomphret's 21st birthday and were "happily married" with one daughter, Megan.

But, over the course of their nearly 30-year relationship, his wife's physical and mental health deteriorated, the jury was told.

Mrs Pomphret had a number of issues, including being on the autism spectrum, suffering Asperger syndrome, and had recently had treatment for cancer.

The defendant said he and their daughter developed "coping mechanisms", removing themselves, or his wife, from a situation and deciding to "let her rant".

Last November 2 had been a normal day, the court heard - Pomphret went to work, then the couple went shopping at Asda before visiting their stables near their home to check on their horses.

Pomphret said he needed to pick up tools to fix the shower at home, but she shouted he was "f****** crazy" and "just going to create more shit", before criticising their daughter.

He told the court: "She ranted at me for being a bad parent, calling me f****** useless. Called me limp and useless. I was not performing very well.

"Marie was at this point raging, absolutely raging, finger pointing, screaming. She then slapped me across the face.

"Er, I remember reaching out, grabbing her hood and ... I don't remember.

"I was standing at the side of her body. There was blood on my hands and the crowbar. She was on the floor."

Defensive injuries to his victim's hands and arms were found as his wife covered her head to try to avoid the blows.

He told the jury he had panicked and "stupidly" decided to try to cover his tracks.

Under-cross examination, Pomphret told the jury he lied to police because he wanted to be there for Megan and to "avoid this" in court.

Prosecutor Mr Cole added: "What is 'this'? 'This' is justice for killing somebody. For killing his wife in the way he did."

Detective Inspector Adam Waller, of Cheshire Police, said: "This case was truly shocking and one of the biggest investigations the constabulary has seen in recent years.

"The injuries sustained by Ann Marie were horrific and all those involved in this investigation were determined to find her killer and ensure they were brought to justice for their actions.

"What Pomphret did that day ripped a family apart and he will now have to face the consequences of that behind bars.

"I hope that, whilst it won't bring Ann Marie back, seeing justice being done will help them in some way."

David Jones, of Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, added: "David Pomphret thought he'd committed the perfect murder but killers always eventually make mistakes.

"Crucially, he forgot to change the socks he had on, the night of the killing, despite changing all of his other clothes. The socks contained airborne spatters of blood and were proof that he was there at the time of the killing.

"The jury have agreed with the Crown's case and dismissed Mr Pomphret's defence of loss of control. But there are no winners in this case.

"The Pomphrets' daughter, who has just turned 18, has lost both her mother and her father in effect, as Mr Pomphret now faces a life sentence. Our thoughts remain with her at this difficult time."

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