A man has been jailed for killing his partner by falling asleep while she was tied up and gagged, leaving her to suffocate.
Warren Martin Coulton, 52, and Claire Joanne Wright, 38, went to Herons Lake Retreat in Flintshire, North Wales, and took sex toys to use in planned bondage sessions. They also brought tape and gloves to experiment with a BDSM fetish Coulton has had since his 20s.
Coulton, the ‘dominant’ partner, rammed a pink sock into Ms Wright’s mouth while her hands were tied behind her back on July 15, 2018, Mold Crown Court heard.
He may have also taped her mouth shut with the sock inside, although he denied doing so. Investigations were not able to prove he did.
The operations manager, who worked at a window and office cleaning business, then fell asleep while Ms Wright was still restrained.
He had been drinking and doing drugs which made it difficult for him to stay awake, the court heard. When he did wake, he abandoned his partner of more than five years’ body and fled the scene, without calling emergency services.
Coulton denies gagging Ms Wright or taping her mouth, and insists her hands were only constrained loosely.
Speaking directly to Coulton, Mr Justice Simon Picken said: ‘On finding her [Claire] dead you did nothing to alert her family or the emergency services to what had happened and, instead, left, on your evidence, to commit suicide.
‘It’s difficult to detect remorse. Nonetheless, you have lost your partner of five and a half years in circumstances you plainly did not intend to happen.’
Coulton’s lawyer told the court: ‘There’s no doubt these tragic circumstances were not desired and the outcome not sought by this defendant.’
Mr Justice Picken agreed, but said Coulton was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence, saying: ‘Either way, you were negligent and grossly so. It was your choice to drink to excess and take drugs. You did not have to do these things (but they have had) disastrous consequences.’
One of Ms Wright’s two children, 15, paid tribute to her mum. She said: ‘My Mum was so important to me. She was a bubbly character – full of life and energy.
‘Nothing in life makes me truly happy anymore. My childhood has been ruined forever. My life is so empty without my Mum.’
The teenager told the court she feels ‘survivor’s guilt’ and that she had wanted to see her mum grow old.
Ms Wright’s sister, Kirsty, echoed similar feelings when she revealed she has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since her sibling’s death.
‘I dream of being attacked, murdered or severely injured. I think it’s a way of assimilating my sister’s last moments,’ Kirsty said.
Ms Wright’s mum, Julie Davies, also said she and her family have been in ‘total shock and disbelief’.
‘The thought that I will never hear her voice or or give her a hug again is unbearable,’ she added.
North Wales Police said: ‘This was a tragic and needless death of a woman described by her friends and family as being a loving and caring mother.
‘Coulton had a responsibility to look after Claire’s welfare and he failed to do so with tragic consequences.
‘It was Coulton’s failure and lack of care towards Claire which ultimately led to her untimely death.
‘Today the court has recognised this failure, and he has been sentenced having been found guilty of manslaughter with gross negligence.
‘Today’s verdict demonstrates that we will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.’