JAILED: 'Dangerous' killer gets 15 years after strangling ex during row over music
Rickardo Wilson will spend at least 10 years behind bars for the manslaughter of Claire Harris in Netherton.
A brutal bully, who professed to love his ‘on-off’ partner Claire Harris but preferred to watch TV rather than call for an ambulance as she lay dying on the floor of her flat, has been locked up for 15 years.
Rickardo Wilson – found guilty by a jury of the manslaughter of the 44-year-old mother of eight – was told by Judge Michael Challinor at Stafford Crown Court today: “You are a dangerous individual and you pose a significant risk to the public, particularly future partners.
“You were attacking her, punching, slapping and strangling her as she struggled and fought for her life until she was dead.
“You then left her on the floor and callously watched television.
"You cared little that night whether she was dead or alive. What you did devastated her family.”
He was told he would be monitored for five years longer than normal on release which can’t be considered until he has served at least two-thirds of his jail term.
The 50-year-old defendant claimed to have ‘no idea’ how Miss Harris came by the 86 injuries she suffered, 43 of which were on the head and neck, but was convicted of her manslaughter after a trial.
The pair were in a stormy, near four-year relationship that was punctuated by heavy drinking and violence.
Her friend Stacey Malcolm explained: “It was drink fuelled, love hate and had got aggressively worse over the years.”
Miss Harris was 5ft 5ins tall and weighed less than 10 stone, while he was five inches taller and well built.
There was no definitive cause of death but the pathologist said it was likely to have been asphyxia. There was deep internal bruising to her neck muscles.
The couple had split up and there was talk of her wanting to end the relationship for good which could have been a motive for the killing.
She had allowed him to remain in her flat in Cinder Bank, Netherton – where he had lived with her intermittently since 2015 – while he supposedly looked for alternative accommodation and she stayed in Dudley with her sons.
The victim was reluctantly lured back to the address by an invitation to ‘dinner and beer’ on January 23 during which they drank and listened to music until a neighbour complained about the noise.
Wilson said he was prepared to turn the sound down but alleged Miss Harris refused and this led to an argument.
A neighbour saw the pair struggling outside the premises with him holding her in a headlock with his arms round her neck while she shouted he was about to kill her.
Mr Jonas Hankin, prosecuting, said Miss Harris was then dragged inside, beaten up and throttled by the defendant who admitted grabbing her round the neck and dragging her to the floor after she had allegedly picked up a knife.
Wilson said he let her go because her eyes were closed and she had gone limp.
He watched TV for ‘10 minutes’ before returning to the prone figure to ‘discover’ she was not breathing.
He rang neither the ambulance service nor the police and said nothing to her family who had expected her to return to her temporary home that night.
Found by her son
Anxious son Daniel Piddington - one of the eight children she had during an 18 year relationship with Martin Piddington who passed away just months before her death – found her body the following evening on the floor where it had been lying for up to 24 hours.
He banged on the door and window for several minutes before looking through the letter box and seeing the defendant, who eventually opened the door a fraction and told him Miss Harris had gone home, but the gap was wide enough for Mr Piddington to see his mother lying motionless on the floor.
He burst into the flat, confirmed she was dead and attacked Wilson. He later told police, who arrived to find the battered killer with his hands tied: “I couldn’t stop hitting him.”
Wilson pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter arguing he used reasonable and normal force to disarm grandmother-of-six Miss Harris of the knife she was allegedly holding when tragedy struck.
'A wonderful person taken too soon'
Her family said in a statement: “Mom was always there when we needed her most and always had a great story to tell.
“She was our rock when our dad sadly passed after a battle with cancer in March last year.
"Having to deal with losing both our parents in the space of nine months has been the most heartbreaking thing we will ever have to face.
“She was taken from us all too soon, and it has left a big hole in our hearts.
"Our memories will always be treasured and will live on in all of her children.
“Mom was a wonderful and kind-hearted person who would help anyone. She was an inspiration to her family and friends. We will stay strong for her and she will forever be in our hearts.
"She was a ball of fun, the life and soul of the party, who lit up the room wherever she went. Mom you will be truly missed by everyone that knew you.”
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