A former Gateshead police officer who assaulted his wife causing her to fall down a flight of stairs at home and left her to die with 19 broken ribs and a fractured spine has been jailed.

Alan Claxton, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where was found guilty of killing his wife Wendy after 45 years of marriage.

The jury heard how on the night of September 30, 2019, concerned neighbours had popped over after noticing the front door to the couple’s home was ajar.The Northern Echo: Wendy ClaxtonWendy Claxton (Image: Northumbria Police)

Once inside, they found incoherent Claxton slumped in a chair and Mrs Caxton - herself a former police custody sergeant - lying deceased on her bed upstairs.

They called emergency services and when police arrived at the scene, 74-year-old Claxton was arrested on suspicion of his wife’s death. Claxton denied any wrongdoing.

He was later released on police bail while officers from the Force’s Major Investigation Team (MIT) launched an investigation which included working with medical experts to establish exactly what had happened.

Expert medical evidence later confirmed Wendy’s injuries, which included 19 broken ribs, a fractured spine and a ruptured aorta, could not have been sustained accidentally, and Claxton was brought back into custody where he was charged with manslaughter, which he denied.

Following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court a jury today (Thursday) found Claxton, of Hillside, Dunston, guilty of manslaughter.The Northern Echo: Alan ClaxtonAlan Claxton (Image: Northumbria Police)

He has now been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Senior Investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Barr of Northumbria Police said: “Alan Claxton has proven himself to be a liar throughout this investigation, giving a number of conflicting accounts of what happened when Wendy fell, sustaining the injuries which killed her, and I am pleased he has now been convicted.

“Claxton tried to cover up what he did, telling us Wendy had fallen down the stairs because she was drunk, but the evidence we uncovered showed this to be a complete fabrication and an attempt to cover up his own callous offending.

“The investigation established that Wendy had been a victim of repeated alcohol-fuelled domestic violence by Alan throughout their marriage.

"Towards the end of Wendy’s life she was becoming increasingly concerned by her husband’s addiction to alcohol and the risks that this created for her.

“While Wendy has limited family, we know she was a great friend to many people in her community and my condolences and thoughts are with all who knew and loved her at this difficult time.”

Det Chief Insp Barr added: “I’d like to thank all the officers and staff, and criminal justice partners who helped with this complex investigation and have helped us secure justice for Wendy.

“Domestic abuse, no matter the form it takes, is completely unacceptable and we are committed to putting perpetrators before the courts.” For anyone who has concerns over a partner, the partner of a friend or family member, who may have a history of violence, Clare’s Law can be used to check the person’s background.

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Officers can check their record to help people make an informed decision about their relationship and escape if necessary.

The service is free and 100% confidential – no one will ever know that the applicant has applied for information.

To find out more, make an application under Clare’s Law, or visit the Northumbria Police website to find out about the support we provide.