A woman who killed her husband after “systematically” abusing him and hitting him with a rolling pin has been jailed. Hannegret Donnelly, 55, controlled husband Christopher’s life “through threats and beatings”, police said. He had 78 external injuries and various internal ones, including spine and neck fractures, when he died in March 2018.
Donnelly was convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years. Mr Donnelly contracted pneumonia and lay dead on the bathroom floor overnight before his wife dialled 999 on 31 March. She had hit her 55-year-old husband with objects, including a rolling pin, and her “systematic domestic abuse” weakened his body to the point of death, police said.
Detectives found his blood on furniture, walls and ceilings throughout their house in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Sentencing Donnelly at Kingston Crown Court, Mrs Justice Yip said her husband “experienced real physical suffering for a long period before his death” and it was “inconceivable he didn’t also suffer mentally”.
The couple had been married for 23 years and lived an isolated existence with their four children and shunned modern technology including mobile phones. The judge said it was “hard to imagine the horror” the children must have been party to, telling Donnelly: “Your children must have witnessed your repeated violence towards their father and were present when he died.”
Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC said Mr Donnelly, a former music teacher, was unable to walk and had become disabled by January, but his wife inflicted “mental and physical suffering” until the time of his death.
The court heard Donnelly told police there was “something strange” in their house, which had affected both her and her husband’s health and even suggested he at times “welcomed the beatings”.
She told police that she beat her husband when he talked about the wrong subject, acted disinterested or looked at her the wrong way.