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East Ham pensioner accused of murdering wheelchair-bound husband goes on trial

PUBLISHED: 12:43 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 13 March 2019

The trial is taking place at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA

The trial is taking place at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

A 73-year-old woman beat her wheelchair-bound husband to death with a wooden pole in a fit of anger, a court has heard.

Packiam Ramanathan launched the “brutal and sustained” attack on disabled Kanagusabi Ramanathan, 76, while he was lying in bed, the Old Bailey heard.

Afterwards, she told her neighbour she had hit her husband of 35 years, jurors heard.

Paramedics found Mr Ramanathan dead on the floor of his bedroom on September 21 last year.

He had suffered serious head injuries and multiple wounds to the body and neck.

He also had injuries to his arms and hands from trying to fend off the blows.

A blood-stained wooden stick was found in a cupboard in the hall of the couple’s flat in Burges Road, East Ham.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC said: “There is no dispute that the person who used that stick to cause those injuries which killed him was his wife, and the prosecution case is that there can be also no doubt that she did so intending, at the least, to cause him really serious harm and that he was unlawfully killed as a result, that is, that she murdered him.”

“The prosecution case is that this was a brutal and sustained attack by this defendant on a disabled and defenceless elderly man whilst he was lying in his bed and that the attack was probably motivated by anger.

“You will hear there were continuing arguments between them about money and that a day or so before this attack, Kanagusabi Ramanathan had written a letter to the Sri Lankan Police alleging fraud and theft by the defendant’s brother in relation to property in Sri Lanka which had been entrusted to him and which he refused to return.

“The defendant had read that letter and was very angry about it.

“The prosecution say that that was most likely the reason behind this attack. It may well have been spontaneous but it was deliberate and it was brutal.”

The court has heard how the couple had an arranged marriage in 1983 and had fled Sri Lanka in the civil war.

Ms O’Neill told jurors they would have to decide if the defendant meant to kill or cause really serious harm or whether she had a partial defence of loss of control or abnormality of mental function.

She said the defendant would claim loss of control after suffering years of “bullying and abusive behaviour” by her husband, a former shopkeeper.

Ramanathan denies murder but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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