Sheila Lockridge manslaughter case: 'A history of violence and abuse' towards partner Dianne Williamson

The victim: Dianne Williamson
The victim: Dianne Williamson

Details of the violent relationship between killer Sheila Lockridge and her partner Dianne Williamson emerged at Leeds Crown Court.

Lockridge faces a long jail sentence after admitting the manslaughter of her partner.

Lockridge, 65, pinned Miss Williamson to a wall and got “in her face”, before choking the frail 70-year-old until she blacked out at their Lodge Gardens, Gristhorpe, home.

Leeds Crown Court heard that the couple, who had been together for over 30 years, had frequently fought and police had been called to their home on several occasions.

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On one occasion, Lockridge is said to have chased Miss Williamson around a pub kitchen with a large knife.

On that occasion, a “hysterical and panicked” Miss Williamson is said to have begged Lockridge: “Please don’t stab me; please don’t kill me.”

In another incident, Lockridge is alleged to have given Miss Williamson a black eye.

Prosecutor Tahir Khan QC said there were several instances where Lockridge produced, or threatened to produce, a knife during furious rows with her partner.

He said the prosecution strongly denied the defence claim that it was Miss Williamson who had instigated the violence which led to her tragic and “horrible” aftermath.

He said that Lockridge had bullied Miss Williamson down the years “and there is evidence from witnesses of the fears that (Miss Williamson) expressed about her own welfare”.

Defence barrister Anthony Metzer QC claimed the violence “went both ways” and that Miss Williamson bit her partner’s breast before the fatal incident.

He conceded, however, that there was a “history of violence or abuse towards the deceased”, adding: “It is not part of the defendant’s mitigation to seek to blame…. the victim of the terrible tragedy.”

In fact, Lockridge had previous convictions for attacks on her partner and others - one in 1992 and another in January 2012. She also received a police caution for a similar offence in 2005. In the same year, both women received a caution after another domestic dispute turned violent.

Mr Metzer said that alcohol played a big part in the often-fractious and at times violent relationship.

He said both Lockridge and Miss Williamson were “regular” drinkers and that violence invariably occurred during bouts of heavy drinking.

He said the couple’s relationship was nonetheless a “generally-loving relationship, but there were periods of verbal and physical abuse perpetrated by both parties”.

He claimed that Lockridge herself was “in fear of violence” before strangling her partner.

He said that a bruise or bite mark was found on Lockridge’s breast which he claimed occurred “before (or) at the time of the triggering of the reaction which resulted in the killing”.

He added: “It was not self-defence, but there was a very violent incident very shortly before (Lockridge) carried out the act.”

Mr Metzer said that Lockridge, of Lodge Gardens, “strongly” denied brandishing a knife during the previous incident in the pub kitchen.

However, two witnesses claimed there were two separate incidents in which Lockridge picked up a kitchen knife and threatened Miss Williamson with it, albeit she put it down after they intervened.

The prosecution said that a previous assault on Miss Williamson by Lockridge, on New Year’s Day 2012, had all the hallmarks of the one which would ultimately take her life. Following this previous attack, Miss Williamson called police who found injuries to her neck, suggesting she had been throttled.

The defence did not oppose the assertion that Lockridge “had her hands around (Miss Williamson’s) throat” on that occasion.

Mr Metzer said the defence accepted “to a degree” the victim’s vulnerability due to her age, “fragile” health and comparative diminutiveness.

He added: “The evidence from the pathologist is that (Miss Williamson) may well have blacked out very quickly.

“We accept qualifiedly she was subject to physical suffering, but it would have been for a relatively short period.”

Sentence was adjourned until May 3.