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Man jailed for life for murdering wife in their Rush Green home

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife and setting her body alight in their Rush Green home. 

Thomas Peter, 50, will serve a minimum of 25 years after his violent attack on Karen Peter in August 2018.

The couple’s three daughters were in the house when he began.

One of them called 999 and told the operator “I think my mother has been strangled.” 

Smoke began emanating from their parents’ bedroom and the daughters, aged 22, 20 and 14, discovered the doors to the home had been locked.

The fire brigade put out the blaze but found Karen badly hurt inside the house. A piece of cloth had been shoved inside her throat to muffle her screams while Thomas strangled her. 

A pathologist said the strangulation had been for a ‘sustained and significant period’.

Detective Sergeant Perry Benton, the investigating officer from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Peter is an evil man and I am delighted he has been convicted and jailed and will face the consequences of his heinous crime.

“This was a vicious and merciless murder carried out by Peter in the family home while his three daughters slept in nearby rooms. Peter’s actions were sustained and deliberate, he meant to kill Karen. He then callously set fire to her body and the house in a bid to destroy evidence, also putting his daughters’ lives at risk.

“He lied again and again as to his wife’s whereabouts and sought to prevent their daughters, the bin men, and the next door neighbour from intervening.

“Throughout this whole period, Peter did not demonstrate one ounce of compassion or concern for his wife or children.

“Peter refused to admit his guilt and has selfishly forced his daughters to re-live that awful morning at trial. 

“I cannot even begin to imagine what they are going through, but I would like to praise them for their immense courage and assistance throughout. I hope today’s sentencing gives them some measure of comfort and closure.”

A jury at the Old Bailey was told that the couple had been married since 1994 but Peter was abusive, controlling and unfaithful. 

In 2010 Karen filed for divorce but, following an incident in which squeezed her throat until she couldn’t breathe, they remarried in 2012. 

Just before her death, Karen reportedly told her daughter she was unhappy but was described as “growing in confidence.”

Her friends quoted her saying “I want my life back.”

Prior to her death, Karen told Peter she wanted to separate from him again. 

She had also confided in a friend that she had met “someone special” but feared Peter would “kill her” if he found out.  

Peter was also sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for arson with intent to endanger life. That sentence will run concurrently.

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