UPDATE: Killed Kewstoke wife had more than 60 injuries
PUBLISHED: 14:31 06 January 2012 | UPDATED: 13:14 07 January 2012
A WOMAN killed by her husband after she told him to leave had more than 60 injuries, consistent with someone defending themselves, Bristol Crown Court heard this week.
Stephen Hotson has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Julie Tottle within a five day period in July, claiming that he is guilty of manslaughter and not murder due to his state of mind, pleading diminished responsibility.
The defence claims Hotson was clinically depressed, causing him an ‘abnormality of the mind’ that impaired his ability to exercise self-control.
Adam Vaitlingham QC, prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court, said that 45-year-old Hotson and his wife Julie had had a heated argument at their home in Crookes Lane, Kewstoke, in which she told him ‘it was over’.
It is claimed Hotson then ‘flew into a fit of rage’ and picked up a vacuum cleaner pipe and hit her on the head repeatedly with it.
The court heard this week from pathologist Hugh White, who examined Ms Tottle’s body.
He said following her death he had identified 59 surface injuries to her body, 24 of which were to her head and neck and could have been caused by an attack.
He added that her neck injuries, which included multiple fractures, may have happened as the result of a ‘targeted assault’ or by someone holding her down while she was attacked.
Mr White said there were also injuries on her hands consistent with someone defending themselves.
Isobel Gray, a colleague of Ms Tottle at the veterinary practice where she worked, called her home number on the morning of July 4, she alleged.
She told the court how the phone was answered by Hotson, who she claims said Ms Tottle was ill with a stomach bug and was asleep.
Ms Gray went on to tell the court about a time when Ms Tottle was allegedly grabbed with both hands around the neck during an argument with Hotson.
She described Ms Tottle as ‘very hard working, very conscientious and very quiet.’
She said that in time leading up to her death Ms Tottle was ‘a bit on edge’.
The court heard on Wednesday from Judith Bailey, a friend of Ms Tottle’s, who said the two had several conversations in the months leading up to the killing.
In these conversations Mrs Bailey said Ms Tottle had asked about women’s refuges and about getting help for herself and Hotson.
She said Ms Tottle had told her that Hotson suffered from ‘black moods’ and that in their last conversation she had told her ‘I can’t take any more’.
Ms Tottle was discovered by her brother Mark, who went round to her property after her work colleague told him she hadn’t been seen in work for several days.
He alleges he found Hotson inside with a lit cooking oil drum and gas pouring out of a disconnected gas meter while Ms Tottle’s blood-stained body lay on the floor.
Hotson later jumped from an upstairs window when police arrived, the court heard, and was taken to hospital with severe injuries.
The trial continues, and is expected to end on Monday.
For the latest on the trial, keep an eye on the Mercury website.