Guilty: Life sentence for Kewstoke wife-killer

PUBLISHED: 16:51 09 January 2012 | UPDATED: 09:02 10 January 2012

Archant

A KEWSTOKE man has today (Mon) been found guilty of murdering his 'loyal' wife by battering her to death with a vacuum cleaner pipe.

Stephen Hotson has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court this week, after denying the murder of Julie Tottle in July last year.

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 to leave him.

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

His Honour Judge Ford QC has this afternoon 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.

“Julie Tottle 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.”

Julie Tottle’s body 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 59 separate injuries in a sustained beating at the hands of her 45-year-old husband.

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