A PENSIONER who strangled his wife to death five days into the first UK lockdown was a “gentle giant” who had previously not so much as raised his voice to her, the couple’s daughter has told a court.

Anthony Williams, 70, was said to have barely left the side of Ruth Williams, 67, with the pair described as a “typical couple in their late 60s” before the fatal attack at their home on March 28.

Emma Williams, 40, said her parents spent “90% of their time together”, were “not argumentative people”, and she had never heard either of them even “raise their voice” during their 46-year marriage.

She told Swansea Crown Court: “My dad’s a gentle giant. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

But she said he had shown signs of strange behaviour from January 2020, which she recorded in an email written two days after the fatal assault at the couple’s home in Brynglas, Cwmbran.

It included Williams claiming he was going to lose the couple’s home, which they owned outright and had finished paying the mortgage on, and becoming “obsessed” with turning off lights and heating to save money.

She said the couple had savings of around £148,000, as well as £18,000 in their current account in the days before lockdown was announced.


Ms Williams said that on one occasion her mother had found her husband counting his shoes, appearing “confused” and concerned that he would not be able to replace one with a hole in “because of Covid”.

Ms Williams said he was watching news reports on the global pandemic “all the time” and believed “no one’s ever leaving the house again”.

“I said, ‘You’re just overthinking things. You’re just watching the news all the time and getting worried with Covid and your mind is just spiralling’,” she said.

Consultant psychologist Dr Alison Witts told the court Williams appeared to suffer from “anxiety and a depressive illness that affected his level of functioning”.

She said it included his mental health deteriorating in the months before, as well as “longer-standing” issues with low mood and anxiety which became prominent after he retired from his factory job the previous year.

Dr Witts said: “Work provided him the structure to get through each day and probably helped him cope with his neurotic disposition. It was one of his main coping mechanisms.

“In 2019, when he left the workplace, that will have also impacted on his mental health having lost all structure and sense of purpose.”

She said Williams’ anxiety “was heightened” around the time of the attack, which “substantially impaired his ability to understand the nature of his conduct, form a rational judgment, and impaired his ability to exercise self-control”.

Dr Witts added: “I am of the opinion that the consideration of diminished responsibility should be applied in this case.”

But Dr Damian Gamble, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, told the court there were no medical records of Williams suffering from depression or anxiety before the attack, and there were “no psychiatric defences” available to him.

Dr Gamble said: “I think the evidence is that he knew what he was doing at the time, and his reasoning was not impaired immediately afterwards.”

In police interviews previously read to the jury, Williams agreed with detectives that he was responsible for the killing of his wife.

Williams said he “snapped” while in bed and started screaming, before putting his hands around his wife’s throat and “choking the living daylights out of her” when she told him to calm down.

He said he chased his wife downstairs and again grabbed her by her throat as she tried to unlock the front door to escape, saying he found himself “throttling her to death”.

The court heard Mrs Williams was found slumped in the porch with a pair of keys in her hand. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

She suffered haemorrhaging in her eyes, face and mouth which were consistent with strangulation, as well as five neck fractures.

Her cause of death was given as pressure to the neck, with a pathologist saying the lack of a ligature mark did not rule out use of a “soft” dressing gown cord found at their home.

Williams is accused of murder, which he denies, but has admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.