Wife jailed for nine years for killing husband with scissors
A WOMAN has been jailed for nine years after being found guilty of killing her fourth husband with a pair of scissors when he ignored her command to tidy their house.
Sandra Clinch looked to the floor as the jury returned their verdict, dismissing her suggestion that American car enthusiast Alan Clinch's death was "a tragic accident".
The jury of six men and six women found Clinch guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and not guilty of Mr Clinch's murder. The jury took 16 hours and 17 minutes to find Clinch guilty by a majority verdict of 10 to two.
The 49-year-old was said to have flown into a rage after her "quiet" husband did not immediately stop tending to the garden and return inside their cottage in the village of Darite, Liskeard, to tidy up. The couple were expecting guests, due to arrive for Sunday lunch, and Clinch had asked her husband for help, but he had apparently told her to "shut up".
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Truro Crown Court heard the fatal wound was caused by dress-making scissors, which were embedded up to 4in (12cm) into Mr Clinch's chest, having first pierced two layers of clothing before puncturing his heart and a lung.
The mother-of-five told police she had thrown the scissors at her husband, but later changed her account, saying he had walked into the line of fire. Finally, she told the jury she was unable to recall whether or not she let the scissors go from her hand.
She had hysterically begged medics to save her 48-year-old husband but he was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital, around midday on May 13 this year.
Clinch had denied murder, and Judge Graham Cottle asked the jury to consider a second charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility or lack of control.
Sentencing Clinch, he said: "You have been convicted by the jury of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Your principal defence of an accident was nothing more than purely fanciful. The jury were satisfied that you were suffering from a personality disorder at the time you killed and it was that personality disorder that affected your ability to exercise self-control."
The judge added: "He (Mr Clinch) was a meek, mild-mannered and gentle man, who simply took what you handed out. This time, when your temper exploded, you killed somebody: your husband. I have no doubt on that evidence that you intended to hurt him badly and you embedded scissors in his heart and immediately after you regretted your actions."
Loving mum who would turn into ‘Incredible Hulk’
IN court, she presented herself as the loving mother and wife whose temper occasionally got the better of her.
But behind the tears, softly-spoken Clinch was a violent woman, prone to screaming at strangers and neighbours and with a reputation for taking matters into her own hands when the red mist descended.
She once drove her car at a teenage friend of one of her daughters, stabbed a former husband in the leg and wounded another in the hand.
If it was not a kitchen knife causing the damage, it was a shower head, a porcelain bowl or a glass picture – as her children would testify in court. On the day Alan Clinch was killed, however, it was a pair of dress-making scissors. Clinch – enraged that her quiet, gentle and slightly-built fourth husband would not immediately comply with her orders to tidy up the house – had demonstrated why one young neighbour referred to the 49-year-old as “the Incredible Hulk”.
She grabbed the scissors and plunged them into Mr Clinch’s chest.
An hysterical Clinch initially told ambulance control staff that she had “stabbed” her husband. She then telephoned her friend to explain that she had “thrown the scissors at” her American car enthusiast husband. In subsequent police interviews, she said she simply threw the weapon, unaware of her husband’s proximity when she began to rage.
Ironically, Clinch told Truro Crown Court she had fled the Luton area in 2005 after one of her children began to get into trouble.
Alan Clinch – who was to become her fourth husband and partner of 11 years until his death on May 13 – soon followed her.
Clinch, whose five children were from four different fathers, wept at regular intervals in the dock. She wiped the tears from her eyes as she recalled the way her late husband would calmly put his arms around hers to soothe his wife whenever she showed the first signs that a storm was brewing inside her. Yet her gaze remained fixed away from the witness box as each of her children emotionally gave evidence against a mother prone, they said, to hitting, punching and kicking.
Pregnant with her first child at 15 while in care, Clinch married her first husband, Andrew Fazekas, in 1981. The night before their wedding, she tore down Christmas decorations and cut the telephone cable after engaging in a violent row with her fiance.
Before their divorce three years later, Mr Fazekas had already written in his diary about how her temper resulted in her stabbing him in the hand. Neighbours in the tiny community of Darite also heard Clinch shout, scream and throw things at her husband, who they said had appeared solemn and withdrawn in the six months prior to his death.
Yet further evidence, this time from Clinch’s mother, offered a more disturbing insight into the mind of a troubled teenage girl.
Chillingly, the court heard how Clinch’s mother highlighted her child’s violent unpredictability, telling social services nearly four decades ago how she suspected her daughter would one day kill someone.