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Theodore Johnson: How the Express & Star reported trial in 1981 over death of first wife

By Andrew Turton | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published:

Theodore Johnson was a 'battered husband', claimed police, who had been 'bullied by his wife and told to do housework and cooking'.

His first wife Yvonne Johnson whom he killed in Wolverhampton

That was the evidence given in court as Johnson was found not guilty of murdering his first wife who fell from a ninth-floor balcony at their flat in Wolverhampton.

And despite being jailed for three years for the manslaughter of Yvonne Johnson, the case set off a chain of events which led to this week's conviction over the death of his third lover.

The Express & Star was in court to report on the three-day trial at Stafford Crown Court which started on November 2, 1981.

Johnson, then a father-of-two, had denied murdering 25-year-old Yvonne by pushing her from the balcony of their flat at Franchise House, in Blakenhall, on May 18.

A police officer had told the court during the trial that Johnson was a 'battered husband'.

Prosecutor, Mr Graeme Hamilton QC, had alleged Johnson told police he pushed his wife twice until she was hanging on with her fingers, and 'just stood there' until she dropped.

He alleged Johnson told officers that the couple had rowed in the flat about going to church.

Jurors were told Johnson claimed his wife would not let him go to church because he was not dressed well enough.

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Johnson said to police that his wife hit him with a book and picked up an ashtray which he took from her, the court heard

The prosecutor said Johnson then took the ashtray from her and hit Yvonne with it and with a vase and a broom.

How the start of the trial was reported in November 1981

It was reported Johnson told police the pair wrestled on the balcony and then he pushed her.

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The prosecution claimed that he had pushed her from the flat balcony deliberately.

But Johnson maintained that it was accident and that he tried to prevent her from falling.

The court was told Johnson, who was 27 years-old at the time of the case, allegedly then changed his clothes and went to see their son at school

Johnson, in his defence, spoke of suffering months of provocation from his '12-stone' wife and 'had to do the housework and cooking' the Express & Star reported.

He was found not guilty of murder at the end of the trial on November 4. But he was jailed for three years for manslaughter.

The Express & Star reported on the verdict from the trial in 1981

At sentencing Mr Justice Talbot told Johnson: "You have led a good and decent life and you are not a violent man.

"You have been a good father to your two young boys and I am satisfied that what happened happened because of the deep provocation you had been put to."

Imposing the sentence the judge added that he had to 'demonstrate the sanctity of life' but was treating Johnson mercifully.

Mr Anthony Palmer QC, for the defence, had pleaded for a lenient sentence because of the provocation to which Johnson had allegedly been subjected.

"It is plain that this woman resented his being in England and it was plain that she took it out on him from time to time but he did not retaliate," Mr Palmer claimed in court.

Theodore Johnson

The court heard claims Johnson had been bullied by his wife since arriving in Wolverhampton from Jamaica in September the year before.

It was alleged that Mrs Johnson had hit her husband with a broom and said she wanted to kill him during the row about church.

Andrew Turton

By Andrew Turton
Digital Journalist

Digital journalist based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Interested in breaking news and social media. Get in touch on Twitter @aturton_star or andrew.turton@expressandstar.co.uk

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