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Narrative verdict given in “night terrors” killing case

Brian Thomas killed his wife Christine during a nightmare

A coroner has returned a narrative verdict into the death of a woman killed by her husband while he was asleep.

Brian Thomas, 60, killed his wife Christine during a dream awhile the couple were camping in 2008.

The inquest heard Mr Thomas, of Neath, was struck by “night terrors” as the pair stayed in their campervan on a seafront.

He strangled Christine with his bare hands in his sleep – and then rang 999 to tell police what he had done.

Mr. Thomas was cleared of her murder last year; the inquest into her death had been postponed pending the trial verdict.

Coroner Peter Brunton, sitting in Aberystwyth, said in the circumstances of this “remarkable, extraordinary and unique case” the only option was a narrative verdict.

Watch Kevin Ashford’s report: Night terror death

Detective Inspector Richard Evans said: “Mr Thomas made a 999 call and his opening words were: “Can you send someone? I think I’ve killed my wife.

“I’ve killed her. Oh my God!”  He said he had been dreaming.”

Police went to the car park in Aberporth, Ceredigion, to find Mr Thomas standing next to the family campervan.

Det Insp Evans said: “He was crying and shaking. He was utterly distraught.”

“The body of Mrs Thomas was found in a sleeping bag.”

The father-of-two went on trial at Swansea Crown Court in November last year having already admitted killing his wife.

The inquest heard Mr Thomas was arrested on suspicion of murder but told police he must have killed her during a nightmare.

The court was told that Mr. Thomas thought he had been defending his wife against an intruder who had broken into their camper van while in fact he had been having a nightmare and was strangling her in his sleep.

Within a week the trial collapsed as the prosecution decided that no further evidence would be put forward.

From the outset both prosecution and defence agreed that Mr. Thomas suffered from a long-standing sleep disorder and was not responsible for his actions.

The crown court case heard that he had been in a state of automatism at the time, meaning his mind had no control over what his body was doing.

When the case against him was dropped the trial judge directed the jury to bring in a formal not guilty verdict.

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