Family 'traumatised' by murder

PUBLISHED: 09:36 10 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:40 10 January 2012

Stephen Hotson

Stephen Hotson

Avon and S Police - one use

THE family of a woman beaten to death by her husband say they have been left 'traumatised' by her 'brutal' murder.

Stephen Hotson was yesterday (Mon) found guilty of battering his wife to death with a vacuum cleaner pipe in July last vear.

He has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court over the past week, after denying the murder of Julia Tottle.

He had admitted killing her, but Hotson’s solicitors argued his clinical depression had impaired his ability to exercise self control on the day he beat the 51-year-old to death for saying she wanted him to leave the marital home.

However, jurors rejected his admission of manslaughter and ruled by an 11-1 majority that he was guilty of murder.

Following the sentencing Julia’s sister Sally read a family statement telling of the trauma she, brother Mark and mother Audrey have been through.

She said on the steps of Bristol Crown Court: “My family has been traumatised by my sister’s brutal death.

“She was a sensitive and caring person.

“We are satisfied with the verdict.

“Julia will be deeply missed and we hope by speaking out we may be able to help others in abusive relationships.”

His Honour Judge Ford QC yesterday sentenced Hotson to life behind bars, and ruled he must serve a minimum of 14 years before he can be considered for parole.

The judge told Tottle: “You acted in rage as a result of your wife telling you there was no future in your relationship and you should leave immediately.

“She had stood by you even when you were abusive and she had even tried to assist you. She was finally ground down by your behaviour.

“You killed her in a brutal and sustained attack when she was trying to fend off repeated blows.

“You have taken the life of a loyal wife and a good person.

“The effect on her family has been totally devastating. The impact on her elderly mother Audrey has been particularly grave and you have irreversibly blighted her final years.”

Julia, also known as Julie Tottle, was found by her brother Mark on July 5, after friends told him she had been absent from work for several days.

He visited the home she shared with Hotson in Crookes Lane, Kewstoke, and found her dead. She had suffered more than 60 injuries in a sustained beating at the hands of her 45-year-old husband.

Hotson tried to blow up the house he shared with his wife, but her brother bravely went into the property and turned off the gas, something his family, the police and judge praised him for yesterday.

DCI Phil Jones said following the sentencing: “Julie was the victim of domestic violence.

“During the trial we heard extracts from her diary detailing physical and verbal abuse over a number of years.

“Sadly none of them were reported to the police.”

* Click on the link at the top right of the page for more on this story.

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