July 06, 2005
Wife stabbed 112 times over affair
By Simon de Bruxelles
AN IMPOTENT husband who encouraged his wife to sleep with other men stabbed her to death when she told him that she was leaving for a lover 30 years her junior.
Christopher Willsher, 53, lost control and attacked his wife, Jeanette, with a kitchen knife, stabbing her 112 times. Willsher was sentenced yesterday to six years imprisonment after a judge at Plymouth Crown Court accepted his plea of guilty to manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility.
The court was told that Willsher had entered into the unconventional arrangement with his 48-year-old wife after diabetes, chronic alcohol abuse and heart problems prevented him having sex.
Over two years the Willshers “picked up” at least 14 men for sex. But when Mrs Willsher fell for one of the youngest of her lovers and told her husband that she was leaving, he could not stand the situation any longer. Mr Justice Owen, the judge, said that difficulties arose when Willsher’s failing health led to his impotence.
He said: “As a result, in a desperate bid to keep your wife, you tolerated what many would find intolerable.”
Willsher had told the court that his wife was “the only true love I have ever known” and he could not bear the thought of her leaving him.
The judge said: “He lost by his own hand the one person he loved.” The Willshers lived in a modern end-of-terrace house in the Ham district of Plymouth. They married in 1982 and ran a carpet-cleaning company together. The couple have a son, also called Chris, who is 21.
Mrs Willsher complained that her husband had a controlling personality and she felt like a prisoner in his home.
As Willsher’s physical health deteriorated, so did his mental state. He became depressed and suffered from rages and mood swings. He drank heavily and smoked cannabis.
After the killing of his lover in November last year, Sean Beaver, 18, told how he heard through a friend of Mrs Willsher’s appetite for young men.
They began an affair. Most of Mrs Willsher’s liaisons were one-night stands, but her affair with Mr Beaver developed into a relationship. Mr Beaver said: “Chris was getting a bit jealous. They used to have arguments all the time because of me.” On the day that Mrs Willsher was killed, Mr Beaver had asked her to move in with him.
The Willshers’ final confrontation took place in the hall of their home. Mr Willsher begged his wife not to leave then killed her. Their son witnessed the attack. Anthony Smith, QC, defending, said that the marriage had been happy until impotence struck. Mr Smith said: “He loved her and was besotted. What he did he did because he wanted to keep his wife.”
Should Mr Willsher have been permitted the defense of 'diminished responsibility'?
Is a 6 year sentence overly lenient for killing his wife by stabbing her 112 times?