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Clitheroe Advertiser and Times
JUSTICE has not been done, not by a long shot.”
So said the sister of Whalley man Peter Ormiston, after the woman who stabbed him to death was sentenced to just four-and-a-half years in jail.
Margaret Howard this week told the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times of her family’s “absolute disgust” at the sentence passed by a court on the Isle of Man last Friday.
Peter Roy Ormiston moved to the island from the Ribble Valley around 2001 and made a good life there, with many friends. But a turbulent relationship with bank worker Ann Marie Gosling ended with her stabbing him to death in January 2004. He was just 49.
His family had waited two long years to see justice done and travelled to the Isle of Man expecting to see Gosling convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Instead, medical evidence submitted at the eleventh hour saw Gosling plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. On Friday she was sentenced to just four-and-a-half years in jail for killing Peter Ormiston a sentence which could see her released early next year.
Mrs Howard, who lives in Altham, said this week: “We think it’s absolutely disgusting. As a family we have lost a son, a brother, a brother-in-law and an uncle, but most importantly Peter’s two sons have lost their dad. We were hoping for at least 20 years, but this sentence means she could be out in January.”
Mrs Howard and her husband, Graham, took Peter’s elderly and frail mother, Margaret Ormiston, of Langho, to the Isle of Man for what they thought would be a murder trial. His father, Roy, died last September with family members convinced that the long wait for justice took a heavy toll on his already failing health.
But Mrs Howard told how new evidence emerged at the last minute, showing that Gosling had been described by her GP as severely depressed after she visited him twice, once in November 2003 and again just five days before the killing.
In light of that evidence, the prosecutor advised Mr Ormiston’s family that he could not pursue the murder charge and had no option but to accept the lesser plea. Even then, his family believed her serious mental problems would see her “put away for a very long time” and were shocked at the length of her sentence.
“Under Manx law, any sentence over three years is reduced by a third,” said Mrs Howard. “That cuts her sentence to three years, so with the time she has already served she could be out in January.
“We went there with our heads held high and with every confidence in the Isle of Man judiciary system, but justice has not been done, not by a long shot.”
Mrs Howard added that the police were equally shocked at the sentence and had lodged an appeal against it. She expects to hear the outcome in six to eight weeks.
Killing a tragedy for all parties
WHEN Isle of Man police were called to a flat in Ramsey on Sunday, January 25th, 2004, they found Peter Roy Ormiston lying in the road outside, dying from three stab wounds.
Crown counsel Mr Stuart Neal told the island’s Court of General Gaol Delivery that his death was “a tragedy for all parties”.
The court was assembled to pass sentence on his killer, Ann Marie Gosling, who denied murdering 49-year-old Mr Ormiston, but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility a plea accepted by the Crown.
Mr Neale described to the court Mr Ormiston’s final hours before the stabbing.
He told how Gosling, who routinely drank two bottles of wine a day and had been prescribed medication for depression by her GP the previous November, had signed herself off sick from work on the Thursday before the Sunday attack.
She had a series of escalating rows with her partner, but with Mr Ormiston never raising his voice.
When the couple returned from a pub on the Sunday, witnesses heard Gosling shouting and then heard a loud crash. The warden of the flats complex, who lived upstairs, looked out of the window to see Gosling jump on her partner on the path outside.
“They were rolling on the grass and then he realised she wasn’t punching Mr Ormiston, she was stabbing him,” said Mr Neale.
The prosecutor said that when police arrived at the scene they found Gosling behaving in a bizarre way, brandishing another knife, grinning and changing into a nightie before retiring to her bed. Some two hours later the officers forced their way in the flat and arrested Gosling who later told detectives: “I tried to kill myself, but I should have done it properly and then Peter would still be alive today, wouldn’t he?”
Defence advocate Mr Richard Pratt said of Gosling: “She killed somebody she loved and lives with that pain. These last two years have been the saddest and loneliest of what has been a sad and lonely life.”
Sentencing Gosling to four-and-a-half years, acting Deemster (Isle of Man Judge) Simon Fawcus told her: “In a ferocious attack with a kitchen knife you killed Peter Ormiston, a man whom you loved and whom you intended to marry. I have not the slightest doubt that you had no intention of killing him, but that you knew what you were doing at the time although you drove it from your memory soon after.”
Mr Fawcus added that this “moment of madness” had not been entirely due to drink and quoted from a psychiatric report. It stated that Gosling’s early life had been “characterised by abuse, violence and neglect” and added: “Perhaps most damaging to her emotional stability was the unpredictability of key people in her childhood. This has been a significant factor in leading to her severe personality disorder and a sense of abandonment.”
Mr Fawcus told Gosling: ‘”You must have known it was a wicked thing to take a knife and attack anyone, especially someone who was close to you. You were, in my judgement, driven to that solely by the fact that Peter Ormiston was a man who did not respond to your aggressive behaviour towards him. That aggressive behaviour was fuelled by drink.'”
Ruling out a life sentence, Mr Fawcus said he did not believe that Gosling posed a risk to the public at large.
Aideen O’Halloran, a consultant forensic psychiatrist based at Broadmoor, told the court that Gosling would be transferred to a secure hospital unit for treatment for her mental illness.
BORN in Ramsbottom, Peter Ormiston came to Whalley as a young boy when his parents, Roy and Margaret, took over Abbey Farm, on Mitton Road. He was one of four children. His brother John and sister Margaret still live locally, but another brother, Fred, died of cancer about two-and-a-half years before Peter’s death. His parents, by then retired and living in Langho, were devastated by the loss of two of their sons in such a short space of time. His father died last September.
As a child Peter went to Whalley Primary School and then to Ribblesdale High School, in Clitheroe. On completing his education he worked first on the family farm and later at Ribble Cement now Castle Cement in Clitheroe. In the 1990s he ran his own demolition and crushing company, based in Whalley. Mr Ormiston was married and had a son, now 16. Although that marriage eventually failed, he was still in regular contact with his son until his death. He later had another son, now aged four-and-a-half, through another relationship.
It was the prospect of a new business partnership that first took Mr Ormiston to the Isle of Man around 2001. He was working for a building company, Auldwyn Construction, where he had made many friends and was held in high regard. He met Ann Marie Gosling on the island about 12 months before she killed him, the couple sharing a flat in King’s Reach, Ramsey.
Mr Ormiston had spoken to his brother, John, by telephone on January 24th, 2004, the day before his death. It was John who flew out to the Isle of Man to formally identify his brother’s body.
His sister, Margaret, described Peter as a happy-go-lucky man with a wide circle of friends. She said his untimely death had left a void that could never be filled.
04 May 2006