Life for man who killed singer wife

Mid Devon Star: Mark Arthur was convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court  (Northumbria Police) Mark Arthur was convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court (Northumbria Police)

A controlling husband who knifed his jazz singer wife in the heart after learning of her affair with a saxophonist has been jailed for life.

Mark Arthur, 50, was handed the life sentence after a jury convicted him of the murder of his wife Heather, who he had been with for 30 years.

As a row between the two escalated following her admission she wanted to leave him, still wearing his dressing gown, he stabbed her in the study of their home.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that she had realised their relationship had come to an end by the time she fell for musician Paul Gowland, and she was in the throes of leaving him when Arthur stabbed her.

Mr Gowland, who played in a number of jazz bands, had met Mrs Arthur only the previous month after she saw his group Strictly Smokin' playing in a local pub.

He told the court they were initially friends, before they fell in love and decided to spend the rest of their lives together.

Arthur had denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of loss of control.

Sentencing Arthur to a minimum term of 18 years, Judge Paul Sloan QC, said: "I'm in no doubt that your intention was to kill. The knife was sharp and you plunged it straight into her heart."

He said the suffering Arthur had caused was incalculable and no sentence he could pass would "extinguish the pain felt by her family and friends".

"Having watched you through the trial you have not shown any genuine remorse for your treatment of Heather nor for causing her death," he said.

"You will always be haunted by the suffering you have caused your children."

Giving his victim impact statement in person, Heather's father Alan Naylor said she was "a beautiful girl with a caring nature".

"Heather's death came as a shock and a great blow to me, her mother Marguerite, my wife Jean and our son Guy," he said.

"The full implications are yet to be felt by the children who are the major losers as a result of this tragic situation.

"She was a victim in this marriage and she was not given the care and consideration a wife would expect from a husband.

"She was a beautiful girl with a caring and considerate nature, the best daughter one could wish for. She was a proud and loving mother of her children who have now lost both a mother and a father.

"Their whole world has been turned completely upside down and we worry for their future.

"Her death has completely altered our lives and we can no longer share the joys she experienced with the children. We will remember all the happy memories of her childhood, her student days and the love of her children.

"She was and still is to us a good girl in every sense of the word."

Joanna Greenberg QC, for the defence, told the court there was substantial mitigating evidence and that Arthur was not a bad man and the stabbing in April last year was a moment of madness.

"This was a 30-year relationship, something must have occurred that caused a man who was otherwise non violent to act in that way," she said.

"He is not a bad man, he may not have been a good husband but he's paid a heavy price. He will come out of prison a pensioner and with nothing, nor a relationship with his children.

"He has lost absolutely everything from what we submit was a moment of madness."

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