Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Man 'stabbed his wife to death after she said she was leaving'

A father of three wept as a court heard how he stabbed his wife to death because she was having an affair and planned to leave him.

Craigavon Crown Court also heard that before a distraught Christopher Harper (45) confessed to police that he had “done something bad”, he left his wallet, a bank book and a note for his eldest daughter.

Harper, a grandfather of two, denies murdering his wife Suzanne on August 20, 2010 in the home they had shared at The Manor, a quiet cul-de-sac in Portadown.

Judge Kevin Finnegan QC was told by prosecuting QC Margaret-Ann Dinsmore that Mrs Harper died from a single stab wound to the neck, although she had several defence wounds to an arm.

Mrs Dinsmore said Mrs Harper had just returned to the family home after visiting her mother, and while away her husband had found a letter from the Housing Executive offering her a house.

The lawyer said that on the morning she died, Mrs Harper had told her husband, now of Abercorn Park in Portadown, she was leaving him after “finding someone else, and that this wasn't working”.

Mrs Dinsmore added: “He stormed out the room and got a knife, a black handled knife” which he hid in his pyjamas before returning to the bedroom.

“He got into bed beside her and she said, ‘Nothing is going to change',” added counsel. There was a struggle, and Mrs Harper was stabbed once in the neck.

Mrs Dinsmore said “an upset” Harper then went to Lurgan police station, asking to speak to an officer about “a serious matter”.

He later told police that he had “done something bad”, and when asked if he had hurt someone, maybe his wife, he said he had but

that it was “too late — she's dead”.

The first officer to question Harper told the court how she spent up to 45 minutes teasing information out of him as he sat rocking in his chair rubbing his head in his hands.

The constable told prosecution lawyer Peter Sefton that an upset Harper only nodded when repeatedly questioned about the “something serious” he wanted to speak to police about.

“I asked him if anyone was hurt and needed medical attention,” she said, adding that when she asked him again if anyone needed help, Harper said: “I need help”.

She told defence QC Martin O'Rourke that she reported Harper “stuttering and unable to speak” and in “such an emotional state he couldn’t get the words out”.

Her duty sergeant also told the court in Armagh that Harper was “extremely distressed, rocking back and forth in his chair and crying”, and that it was difficult for him to speak as he was “crying that much”.

Harper told the sergeant: “I've done something bad”. He then added: “It’s too late, she's dead” — before admitting that it was his wife who was the victim.

The sergeant said Harper then told her his wife was cheating on him and had done so before, but that he “didn't want her to leave”.

Harper said his wife could be found in “the bedroom”.

“I tried to clean her and put a pair of socks on her because she doesn’t like the cold,” Harper had added, said the sergeant.

After being charged on suspicion of his wife's murder, Harper replied: “I didn't mean to do it, I'm sorry”, before picking up a picture of his wife and daughter and kissing it as it was put in a bag with the rest of his belongings.

The arresting detective said that when he was told police had found his wife dead, Harper replied: “Oh no”. At hearing.

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