Horse-whisperer, 69, likened to The Twits character faces dying in jail for murdering husband

22 March 2024, 15:22

Horse expert Christine Rawle (l) jailed for a minimum of 17 years for murdering husband Ian Rawle (r)
Horse expert Christine Rawle (l) jailed for a minimum of 17 years for murdering husband Ian Rawle (r). Picture: socialmedia/police

By StephenRigley

A "horse whisperer" has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering her husband at their Devon home after he called her fat and lazy.

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Christine Rawle, 69, killed Ian Rawle, 72, by stabbing him in the back between his shoulder blades with a long knife as he pushed a wheelbarrow of horse manure to a dung heap on August 21, 2022.

She was told she will serve a minimum of 17 years in prison as she was sentenced and now faces dying behind bars.

She pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder, claiming she was acting in self-defence following years of abuse at the hands of her husband, but was convicted of the charge by a unanimous jury on Friday.

Judge James Adkin told Rawle she "violently thrust" a knife with a 12.5-inch blade into her husband's back, intending to kill him, during a heated argument about the sale of land on their £800,000 home.

Christine Rawle faces dying in jail
Christine Rawle faces dying in jail. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

Read More: Horse-whisperer likened to The Twits character guilty of murdering husband by stabbing him in the back

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During the trial, Rawle claimed she had been the victim of coercive and controlling behaviour - suffering years of physical and psychological abuse from her husband.

The judge said: "Ian was not perfect. The evidence showed that he was obstinate, sometimes grumpy, he could shout, he was stuck in his ways and he was old-fashioned in terms of how he wanted a relationship with his wife. But he was in no way the serial domestic abuser you sought to portray him as."

He added: "The main reason you killed your husband was that you have an ungovernable temper."

The couple had been compared to Roald Dahl's The Twits when she put Viagra in his tea, chilli in his pants and wiped her bottom with his ties.

The retired circus trainers who keep a family of pet monkeys, continuously played practical jokes on one another out of their hatred for one another.

Footage of 'horse whisperer's' angry row with husband before she murdered him

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When police arrived at the scene, and during police interview, Rawle claimed she had been subjected to years of psychological and physical violence from her husband.

The defendant, who has been diagnosed with depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder, insisted she believed he was going to kill her when she attacked him.

Witnesses gave differing accounts of Rawle and her husband, with one neighbour describing Mr Rawle as “vindictive” and unpleasant to his wife.

Court artist sketch of Christine Rawle, 69, convicted of murdering her husband Ian Rawle, 72
Court artist sketch of Christine Rawle, 69, convicted of murdering her husband Ian Rawle, 72. Picture: Alamy

Rawle’s son Thomas told the jury how Mr Rawle had subjected his mother to years of abuse, and tried to control her by hiding her car keys – describing her as a “fat pig”.

A friend of Rawle said she waited on her husband “hand and foot” but he would accuse her of being lazy and useless, with Rawle confiding that she wanted a divorce.

One work colleague of Mr Rawle told the court she was concerned he was the victim of domestic abuse and tried to find him a support service.

She described seeing Mr Rawle with a black eye, which he said was caused by his wife. On one occasion, Rawle rang the workplace and told the witness: “Tell Ian to look in the mirror because he isn’t Kevin Costner”.

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