Pensioner who killed abusive husband jailed for two years and four months

Packiam Ramanathan. Picture: Met Police

Packiam Ramanathan. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

A pensioner who beat her controlling and abusive husband to death has been jailed for two years and four months.

Kanagusabi Ramanathan. Picture: Met Police

Kanagusabi Ramanathan. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

Packiam Ramanathan, 73, of Burges Road, East Ham had previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Kanagusabi Ramanathan, 76.

She was found not guilty of murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.

The court heard how Ramanathan went into a trance and battered her disabled husband to death in his bed after he threw a stick at her.

Those present heard how he “treated her like a servant”, used “filthy language”, was abusive and controlling, exerted financial control and repeatedly accused her of having an affair with a fishmonger who called her “darling”.

By contrast, Ramanathan, who is frail, underweight and suffers from diabetes, was described as a “wonderful person” who was “quiet, reserved and upstanding”.

Her barrister Stephen Kamlish QC said: “To say she is a good person is an understatement. She is a truly decent person.

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“She has been in a real prison with her husband, a prison of cultural design, for 36 years. She has been tried for a murder she did not commit which she admitted from the outside was loss of control.

“She now has to face a battle to remain in this country. She is in fear of going back to Sri Lanka and people in Sri Lanka finding out.”

The defendant, a German citizen of Sri Lankan descent, had admitted manslaughter and was cleared of murder after a jury deliberated for just half an hour.

Judge Anuja Dhir QC agreed she was a “good person” as she passed sentence.

The judge said the husband was a “control freak” who had been physically and verbally abusive and subjected her to “coercive and controlling behaviour”.

The defendant has already spent 194 days in custody and faces possible deportation to Germany, where she has no family.

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

On September 21 last year, paramedics found former shopkeeper Mr Ramanathan dead in his bedroom after the defendant told her neighbour she had hit him.

A blood-stained wooden stick was found in a cupboard in the hall of the couple’s flat.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill QC had claimed there had been arguments about money and the defendant had become “very angry” at finding out her husband had written to Sri Lankan police accusing her brother of fraud and theft.

But in her evidence, Ramanathan told of years of bullying and abusive behaviour by her husband.

Recalling the killing, Ramanathan told jurors: “It was like I was in a trance. I hit him. I do not know. I did not know what I was doing. I could not feel this. I remember him saying don’t hit me. I remember I hit him.

“I lost control at that time. I did not plan anything. I’m not a person who would do such a thing. I don’t know how I did it. For me I still feel like somebody else did it.”