A 73-year-old woman who beat her wheelchair user husband to death with a wooden pole after years of abuse has been jailed for his manslaughter.
Packiam Ramanathan (pictured) went into a trance when she killed disabled Kanagusabi Ramanathan, 76, as he lay in his bed, the Old Bailey heard.
She had admitted manslaughter and was cleared of murder after a jury deliberated for just half an hour.
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Judge Anuja Dhir QC jailed the woman for two years and four months for carrying out the killing.
The court had heard how the couple had an arranged marriage in 1983 and had fled Sri Lanka in the civil war.
On September 21 last year, paramedics found former shopkeeper Mr Ramanathan dead in his bedroom in Newham, east London, after the defendant told her neighbour she had hit him.
A blood-stained wooden stick was found in a cupboard in the hall of the couple’s flat.
Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC had claimed there had been arguments about money and the defendant had become “very angry” at finding out her husband had written to Sri Lankan police accusing her brother of fraud and theft.
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But in her evidence, Ramanathan told of years of bullying and abusive behaviour by her husband.
He repeatedly accused her of having an affair with the fishmonger because he called her “darling” when he served her, the court was told.
Recalling the killing, Ramanathan told jurors: “It was like I was in a trance. I hit him. I do not know. I did not know what I was doing. I could not feel this. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t hit me’. I remember I hit him.
“I lost control at that time. I did not plan anything. I’m not a person who would do such a thing. I don’t know how I did it. For me I still feel like somebody else did it.”
Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, suggested that if Ramanathan had wanted to kill her diabetic husband she could have simply given him a bigger dose of insulin and “no-one would have known”.
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He said: “She is frail, she is slight, she is getting on for anorexic weight. It’s hard to beat someone to death with a stick when you are that size.”
During the sentencing hearing, Anuja Dhir QC today jailed her for two years and four months over the incident and with time served on remand she will likely be freed in months.
“You were married to Kanagusabi Ramanathan for 37 years,’ the judge said.
“The marriage took place in Sri Lanka where you were born. From Sri Lanka you both moved to Germany and then on to London.’It was not a happy marriage.
“Given all of the evidence I have heard in the case I am satisfied that from the outset of that marriage until about 2007 you were abused physically, sexually and mentally.
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“You told the jury that from 2007 the physical and sexual violence stopped, but the verbal abuse, false allegations of infidelity, the foul language as well as the coercive and controlling behaviour continued.
‘That evidence was supported by witnesses called by the prosecution, for example your landlord who had known you both for seven years and the GP who had known you both for 11 years described Kanagusabi Ramanathan as an aggressive, difficult man who was a control freak.
“If he didn’t get what he wanted he would complain to people in authority.’Those witnesses went further; they said that the complaints made were often embellished and contained lies.
“Their evidence was supported by letters drafted by Kanagusabi Ramanathan found on his computer.
“Some of those letters were for minor complaints, others were more serious and some – in particular the one about your brother in Sri Lanka – were sinister.
“Many prosecution witnesses agreed with the suggestion made by your advocate that you were treated like a slave.
“Some of them spoke of the verbal abuse and the filthy language you endured. They said that your response was to cry and to keep quiet.
“They spoke of the constant and hurtful taunts and accusations made about affairs with other men and some of those humiliating comments bordered on the ridiculous – such as the accusation repeatedly of having an affair with a fishmonger, a man in his 30s who on one occasion when buying fish called you “darling”.
“They spoke of the controlling behaviour of Kanagusabi Ramanathan.
“You were not allowed to speak to men, you were not allowed to speak to people on the phone or have a phone of your own.
“You were given less money than you needed to shop for basic essentials, and you were not allowed to have a social life.”
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