Sara Thornton murdered her husband in 1989 by stabbing him to death as he lay on the settee in a drunken stupor. She pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of provocation, a plea almost as fanciful as Ram’s. Unsurprisingly, this was not accepted by the prosecution, or by the jury, and the following year she was gaoled for life at Birmingham Crown Court.
Her first appeal was dismissed in 1991. Under intense pressure from “women’s” groups her case was referred back to the Court of Appeal, and on July 28, 1995 a retrial was ordered, and she was granted bail.
Thornton’s supporters portrayed her as a battered wife pushed beyond endurance by a drunken bullying husband. In fact, Malcolm Thornton had been married twice before, and both his ex-wives spoke well of him. One said, “Yes, he drank too much but he was a happy drunk”. (1) Thornton also had a drink problem, and had separated from her first husband, Helmut Scharley, after only a year of marriage. (2)
In May 1996, Thornton was convicted of manslaughter on unspecified grounds. She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, but walked free time served. (3) Thornton’s solicitor was Gareth Peirce.
According to Mrs O’Neill, Thornton attended Ram’s second appeal, (4) and after it was dismissed, took a photograph of her. Thornton has been one of Ram’s most vociferous supporters, obviously empathising with her fellow murderer. Her own image has been tarnished somewhat since her retrial though; a dramatisation of her case was not well received, and her press coverage has been far more critical than Ram’s.
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