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Mother-of-eight 'strangled to death by partner' during row over noise

By John Scott | Netherton | Crime | Published:

Rickardo Wilson is on trial for the alleged murder of his partner Claire Harris.

Police in Cinder Bank, Netherton, where Claire Harris died

A mother-of-eight was strangled to death by her partner during a row at her home in Dudley, a court heard.

Claire Harris had wanted to end her 'volatile and dysfunctional' relationship with Rickardo Wilson when she was killed in Cinder Bank, Netherton, the opening day of a murder trial was told yesterday.

The pair were seen struggling outside the property and she shouted 'he's going to kill' me before she was found dead, a judge heard.

Mr Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, said: “Both parties habitually drank to excess and each used violence to the other.”

Police had been called to intervene in earlier disputes on several occasions, it had been said.

Stacey Malcolm, a friend of 44-year-old Miss Harris, later told police: “It was drink-fuelled, love hate, and had got aggressively worse over the years.”

The couple, who had been together since 2014, split up in around November last year with Miss Harris moving to live with her sons in Dudley – she has eight children with her partner of 18 years, Martin Piddington, Stafford Crown Court heard.

She allowed 50-year-old Wilson to remain in the ground-floor flat she rented in Cinder Bank while he searched for alternative accommodation, it was claimed.

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She accepted his invitation to have a meal with him and they ‘had a bit of a party’ at the flat on January 23.

But a row flared between them following a complaint about the noise from a neighbour.

Wilson later told police he was prepared to turn the hi-fi down but she was not, the court heard.

Neighbour Julie King reportedly saw the pair struggling outside the property with Miss Harris being held in a headlock and shouting: ‘he’s going to kill me’.

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Her body was found lying on the floor of the flat by one of her children 24 hours later when Wilson was still at the premises.

The defendant later claimed to detectives that Miss Harris had come at him holding a knife – but not threatening him with it – as their argument escalated.

The defendant admitted grabbing her round the neck and pulling her to the ground, it was said.

Mr Hankin maintained: “He punched her to the head and face and intentionally strangled her to death.”

He continued: “The defendant admits forcefully compressing her neck. He denies trying to kill her or cause really serious harm.

"He said she picked up a bread knife and claims the force he then used was reasonable and normal.”

Wilson denies murder and manslaughter and the trial continues.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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