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Scissors killer Sandra Clinch was 'violent to previous partners too'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

  • Sandra Clinch


A woman has been jailed for nine years after being found guilty of killing her fourth husband after fatally wounding him with scissors when he ignored her command to tidy the 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 but not guilty of Mr Clinch's murder.

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, in Cornwall 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".

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.

Clinch had a history of violence against her former partners and children, and her eldest son told the court she would go into a "rage" when the "red mist" descended.

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:

"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.

"It has been a regular feature during your life. The evidence established beyond doubt you have been aggressive, abusive and violent towards previous partners as well as your children.

"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."

Clinch said she had never intended to seriously injure the "kind, gentle" Mr Clinch, described by friends as a quiet man who was known locally for his charity work.

The court was told Clinch had also stabbed her second husband, Peter Knibbs, with a kitchen knife, requiring him to undergo major surgery and spend three weeks in hospital, following a spat in 1989.

Other witnesses recalled how Clinch had bit a neighbour's hand during an argument, while Clinch herself admitted driving her car at a teenage man she suspected was a bad influence on one of her children.

It prompted one young neighbour in Cornwall to refer to Clinch as "the Incredible Hulk".

Speaking outside court, Mr Clinch's brother, Peter, 53, who lives in Caernarfon, North Wales, said: "I feel the sentence is too short, but I have to accept the verdict of the court and the jury, it isn't going to do any good complaining about it.

"I have to accept the decision of the court that she is not well."

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