The Desperate Wife

March 26, 2024

Sara Thornton was convicted of the murder by stabbing of her brutal, alcoholic husband, a retired police officer, and sentenced to the penalty required by law: imprisonment for life.

We were instructed on her behalf in connection with her appeal against that conviction.

The conviction was contested at appellate level on grounds of cumulative provocation, the first time in English legal history that this ground was tested. Whilst the appeal failed, it established the foundation for future appellate level attacks on the narrow grounds of defence available in English law to battered women who killed.

Sara Thornton’ s second appeal (in which we did not represent her) succeeded on grounds of diminished responsibility.

Sara’s story was told in Jennifer Nadel’s excellent book, The Story of a Woman Who Killed.

The case inspired a BBC television film, Killing Me Softly. Attach to the words Killing Me Softly the following link:

Judgments and media

The Independent, 31 May 1996

The Guardian, 18 June 2019

BBC News, 29 July 2008

Elizabeth Mytton, The Radical Potentialities of Biographical Methods for Making Difference(s) Visible.