Original article no longer available
Easy Anglian Daily Times
June 7, 2005 07:30
AN UNEMPLOYED Suffolk man, whose wife was having an affair with his best friend, stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife as he was preparing the Sunday roast, a court has heard.
Gareth Lewis plunged a kitchen knife with a 19cm blade into his 42-year-old wife Amanda’s stomach during a row about who should move out of their Bury St Edmunds home, Ipswich Crown Court was told.
Several weeks earlier, in the same period that Lewis had lost his job, his wife had made it clear that she wanted to be with his best friend Nigel Langfield rather than him, and the couple had stopped trying to hide their affair.
On October 24 last year, the day of the alleged stabbing, Mrs Lewis had come home at 5.30am after spending the night with Mr Langfield and when Lewis had asked her during the morning who she was texting she had replied “who do you think?”, said Graham Parkins, QC, prosecuting.
Mrs Lewis had gone out to do some shopping and on her return she and her husband, who had both recently consulted divorce lawyers, began arguing about who should move out of their Fitzgerald Walk home.
During the argument, 42-year-old Lewis, who has denied murdering his wife, used a kitchen knife to cut the wrappings off a joint of beef and it was this knife that was used to inflict the single fatal stab wound to Mrs Lewis’ stomach.
The knife penetrated five-and-a-half inches into her body and passed backwards and upwards cutting through her liver and aorta before cutting into a vertebrae in her backbone, said Mr Parkins.
“Amanda was unable to prevent the stabbing probably because it happened very quickly indeed,” he said.
“The prosecution say that this action by the defendant was unlawful – in other words it wasn’t an accidental blow, it wasn’t done in lawful self-defence or for any other acceptable reason.”
He said that because of the force behind the blow, which caused the knife to penetrate as far as it did and cause the damage it did, it was a common sense conclusion that Lewis meant to cause her really serious injury.
“The unlawfulness of the action and the intention to cause really serious injury amounts to murder,” alleged Mr Parkins.
Outlining the background to the case he described how Gareth and Amanda Lewis had been childhood sweethearts and had been married for 21 years.
The couple had moved to Bury St Edmunds with their two children in 1997 when the company Lewis worked for as an agricultural engineer moved to the town.
His supervisor at work was Nigel Langfield and in September 2001 both men were made redundant when the firm shut down.
Mr Langfield had become a regular visitor at the Lewis’s home and witnessed regular rows between the couple arriving out of Lewis’s inability to find a permanent job.
“Amanda claimed he was lazy and wasn’t helping with the chores and wasn’t good with the children. It seems that Gareth never took Amanda out which added to their problems,” said Mr Parkins.
Mr Langfield began taking Mrs Lewis to dancing classes after her husband said he wasn’t interested in going and their friendship developed from there.
By June 2004 the couple were having an affair and Mrs Lewis consulted a solicitor about starting divorce proceedings.
She then had a change of heart and in an attempt to make a go of her marriage she stopped seeing Mr Langfield, although they kept in touch with text messages.
Last August, the Lewis’s went on a family holiday to Portugal but on their return Mrs Lewis renewed her relationship with Mr Langfield.
Mr and Mrs Lewis both consulted solicitors but while Mrs Lewis wanted to move quickly with a divorce, her husband was still hoping the marriage would survive.
“He felt Nigel was the route of their problems and thought he should stay away from their home to give them a chance,” said Mr Parkins.
He said by that stage Lewis was sleeping alone, was unemployed and suffering from depression. “Amanda was still seeing Nigel and wasn’t trying to hide it. Gareth was well aware of that situation,” said Mr Parkins.
On October 23 – the night before Mrs Lewis died – she went to a pub and nightclub with Mr Langfield before going back to his home.
He dropped her off at her house at 5.30am on Sunday morning and they arranged to meet later in the day.
Mrs Lewis went out shopping and on her return her husband had helped bring the bags into the kitchen before starting to prepare the Sunday roast.
“They started arguing. It appears that argument was no more or less than a continuation of earlier arguments about divorce matters,” said Mr Parkins.
After his arrest Lewis told police that he had gone to the kitchen bin to throw away the wrapping from the joint of beef and had planned to put the kitchen knife he had been using and a cup in the sink.
However as he turned away from the bin his wife had been standing a foot away from him and he had noticed a surprised look on her face.
He claimed she had said “You stupid fool” and had looked down. He had followed her gaze and saw the kitchen knife in her stomach.
He had immediately pulled out the knife and dialled 999. His call to the emergency services was received at 2.52pm and during it he said: “I’ve stabbed my wife”.
He also said that he would probably need a doctor himself as the medication he was on was “really kicking in” and had “taken over completely”.
Police officers who went to the end of terrace house found Mrs Lewis lying on the floor holding a towel to her stomach.
She was taken by ambulance to West Suffolk Hospital where she died at 4.57pm the same afternoon.
Mr Parkins told the court that prior to the alleged stabbing Mrs Lewis had swept up debris from the kitchen floor. Scenes of crime officers had found this dirt on top of the meat wrapping in the bin which did not tie in with Lewis’s version of events.
He said that in addition to the stab wound three separate bruises were found on Mrs Lewis’s face.
He claims that the force used to inflict the stab wound was not “insignificant” and said although Lewis may have been instantly remorseful after inflicting the wound, his actions at the time had been “clear and deliberate”.
The first witness to give evidence yesterday was Mr Langfield who told the court that he had been forced to retire from work due to ill health in February 2002.
He said he had known the defendant since 1997 and had become aware of problems in the Lewis’s marriage during visits to their home.
He had started taking Amanda Lewis to dancing classes at the Bury Corn Exchange in 2002.
By last summer he and Amanda had become closer and about that time Lewis had confided in him his wi
fe had told him that she didn’t want to be in the same house as him.
Defence counsel Patricia Lynch put to Mr Langfield: “He (Gareth Lewis) had no idea at that stage that you and she had started an affair. He confided in you as his best friend?”
Mr Langfield replied “yes”.
He accepted that a week after the Lewis family holiday to Portugal last August Mrs Lewis told her husband that she wanted to be with Mr Langfield rather than him and this had happened in the same week that Lewis had lost his job.
The trial continues today, Tuesday.