A NEWPORT anti-domestic violence campaigner and a Plaid Cymru politician have been reprimanded by a judge for online comments made about the trial of a Cwmbran man who killed his wife.

On Saturday Rachel Williams, who survived years of abuse at the hands of her estranged husband, including being shot with a sawn-off shotgun, and later set up the Ask for Ani (Action Needed Immediately) scheme of which the Duchess of Cornwall is a patron, posted a Tweet relating to the trial of Anthony Williams, 70, who killed his wife Ruth, 67, five days into lockdown, on March 28 last year.

The message was later retweeted by Plaid Cymru MS Helen Mary Jones.

He was sentenced to five years in jail earlier today at Swansea Crown Court for manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility after being cleared of murder, following evidence his mental state was “severely affected” during the UK’s lockdown.

Following his sentencing, a judge accused both Ms Williams and Ms Jones of abusing their “social media, political influences and high profiles” and of risking the collapse of the trial.


The tweet, written alongside a BBC article about the trial, said: “Another perp using the ‘I just snapped’. It is complete bulls***! As so many of us will know, there would have been history of domestic abuse.

“I hope this jury finds him guilty of murder.

“Rest in peace, Ruth.”

Judge Paul Thomas said the jury in the trial had been sent away for the weekend and were in the middle of deliberating counts of murder or manslaughter when the post was written and shared.

The judge said he believed the post “ran the risk of influencing a jury” had they become aware of it, particularly as the catchment area for the court’s juries fell into Ms Jones’ Mid and West Wales constituency.

“On the face of it, it amounts to a clear contempt of court. You both abused your social media, political influences and high profiles,” Judge Thomas said.

“Had a juror seen that tweet, the trial would have been aborted at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds of public money. It would also have delayed the backlog which we’re all battling with at the moment in the criminal courts.”

He said had the trial been aborted, for reasons including if a jury member had seen the tweet, the pair would “probably” have been ordered to pay the “wasted” costs.

Ms Williams apologised to the court and said jeopardising such a trial “would go against every fibre in my body”.

“It would go absolutely against everything I believe in to put a tweet out to try and influence anybody and to jeopardise a case as high(sic) as this,” she said.

Her barrister, Kirsten Heaven, told the court that Ms Williams herself was a survivor of attempted murder and domestic violence by her estranged husband, who shot her with a shotgun before later taking his own life.

Judge Thomas said that having heard from both women, there was no need to invoke a summary procedure for contempt of court, which could lead to further action being taken, and that only “admonishment is appropriate”.

But he said it was “significant” that neither woman had “bothered” to establish whether the trial involved a history of domestic violence, with the tweet suggesting there was despite there being no evidence of it.

“Indeed the compelling evidence from a number of sources, including the deceased’s own daughter to whom she was extremely close, was that she had never even heard her father raise his voice to her mother,” the judge said.

He told Ms Jones that her “gross irresponsibility sets a very bad example to others”.

Ms Jones told the court she had not “read the original post carefully” but accepted it was “entirely” her fault for not realising the case was ongoing.

She said: “I can assure the court that I understand that my position as a person holding public office makes this matter even more serious.

“The reposting was done in genuine error, but I fully accept this in no way changes the seriousness of the matter.”

In England and Wales, jurors are meant to deliver verdicts solely based on evidence heard in court, and told to ignore any information or commentary from external sources, including on social media.

A defendant has a right to a fair trial, and anything that creates a serious risk of prejudicing a case could lead to it being halted or scrapped.

The Contempt of Court Act makes it an offence to publish anything which could prejudice or impede a trial.