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18 Jan 2016
Jonathan Cudworth, represented by Oliver Saxby QC, was acquitted of murder on Friday following a 4 week trial, his defence of loss of control having been accepted by the jury.
Cudworth had stabbed his Polish wife, Mika, to death at their house near Deal in Kent following an argument one night during which she revealed that she had been having an affair and was leaving him. Mika sustained 4 stab wounds to the chest, side and back, injuries consistent with compression of the neck sufficient to cause unconsciousness and blunt impact wounds to the head and face. After the killing Cudworth proceeded to conceal his wife’s death, pretending she had walked out following a disagreement. In fact, in the days that followed, he left her body in a rape seed field, got rid of her belongings, cleaned the house of her blood and – when friends asked why they had not heard from her – posted a message in Polish on her Facebook account consistent with his cover story. The Polish was of a poor standard, and her friends realised it would not have been posted by her. In the event the Police conducted a thorough search of his address, finding amongst other things, her DNA and blood and what the Crown were later to allege at trial was a shallow grave in the garden consistent with premeditated murder. Cudworth had decided to kill her a few days earlier, the Crown asserted, because he knew the marriage was over and could not accept her being with anyone else. Cudworth relied on the defence of loss of control, arguing that against a background of suspicion that his wife had been having an affair with a local man, he had lost his control when she had returned home, late, and told him their marriage was over.
The case was a complex one, both factually and legally. The Crown called a large number of witnesses dealing with the nature of the relationship, many of whom attested to alleged domestic violence on his part. Careful cross-examination revealed very little corroborative evidence that this was the case. As to the law, at the conclusion of the evidence in the case the Court heard argument on whether the defence of loss of control should be left to the jury, ultimately being persuaded that it should be. Central to the submissions put forward on Cudworth’s behalf was the leading case of Clinton, and the relevance of infidelity to the jury’s considerations notwithstanding the apparently restrictive provisions of the governing statute, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
Oliver Saxby QC was leading Daniel Cummins and was assisted during the trial by Leah Wilson from instructing solicitors, Reeves and Co. In the event, Cudworth’s team were able to present his case in a way that demonstrated the build-up of pressure over the months leading up to the killing, culminating in his loss of control on the night in question. What followed thereafter, they submitted, was done in panic.
Media coverage of the case is provided in the links below:-