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Haworth army veteran is jailed for killing wife
2:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in Keighley
An army veteran hit his wife of 53 years on the head with a lump hammer and throttled her to death with a dog lead because he was determined to die and did not think she could cope without him.
Clement Callaghan took 150 tablets and cut himself after killing Eileen, 76, at their home in Ivy Bank Lane, Haworth, on August 4 last year.
He survived the suicide attempt after his vehicle was spotted in a lay-by and paramedics revived him.
Callaghan, 80, described at Bradford Crown Court on Friday as “selfless and modest”, was jailed for three years for the manslaughter of his wife on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Prosecutor Sophie Drake said the Crown accepted Callaghan was clinically depressed and suffering from an abnormality of mind.
He struck Mrs Callaghan on the head with a hammer after bringing her back from her regular Saturday morning trip to the village hairdresser.
She lay in the dining area moaning, and he later said he wanted to ease her pain. He put a dog lead round her neck, pulling it tight until she went limp.
Callaghan then drove to a lay-by at Laneshaw Bridge in Lancashire, where he took 150 Paracetamol tablets and cut his jugular vein and groin areas.
He was rescued by passers-by and revived in hospital, where he told a nurse: “Why did they have to find me? I want to die.”
The court heard Mr and Mrs Callaghan married in 1959. They were teenage sweethearts and led a gentle and moderate life. They had no children but loved their two dogs and enjoyed trips to the Dales and the Lake District.
Miss Drake said Mrs Callaghan’s body was found by the police. She had a red dog lead round her neck and there was a lump hammer beneath a cushion next to her.
Cause of death was strangulation after she was rendered unconscious by a blow to the head.
Peter Moulson QC, Callaghan’s barrister, said it was a tragic story.
Callaghan had served in the Royal Artillery and played an active role in the British Legion, carrying the flag on Remembrance Sunday.
He had wanted to die but could not leave his increasingly frail wife to cope with lighting the stove, turning on the taps and looking after the dogs.
“This is an entirely unique and tragic case after a lifetime of contribution,” Mr Moulson said.
On his release from jail, Callaghan will live with his nephew, David, at his farm in Oxenhope.
The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Roger Thomas QC, said there was no “bad blood” in Haworth about what Callaghan had done. He was “a proud and loyal man”, and there were many character references from members of his community.
With “skewed and bizarre logic”, he thought it was unfair to leave his wife by herself.
His own GP had described his actions as “astonishingly out of character”.
Callaghan, who is very hard of hearing, was invited out of the dock to move nearer to hear the judge’s sentencing remarks.
Wearing a check shirt and cricketers’-style cream jumper with a stripe round, he told the judge: “I never had a parking ticket,” as Judge Thomas spelled out his exemplary life.
The judge added: “You have a great deal of support in the Haworth area, and it may well be that you can go back there, with the help of your family and the community.”