Wife killer must stay in jail

Thomas Flanagan
Thomas Flanagan

A GAMBLING addict who killed his wife in a drunken row and dumped her body in the garden has been told by top judges he deserves every day of his jail term.

Thomas Patrick Flanagan throttled 57-year-old Elaine Flanagan, after she hid his car keys and credit card to ‘protect him from himself’.

He then buried her in a shallow grave in their back garden, where her badly decomposed body was discovered almost a month later.

The 58-year-old, of Wigan Road, Leigh, denied her murder, but admitted manslaughter and was jailed for 11 years at Liverpool Crown Court in December.

Flanagan launched a bid to challenge his sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.

His lawyers argued his punishment was far too tough in light of his personal mitigation and his ‘genuine remorse’ for what he did.

But his complaints were thrown out by three senior judges, who said his violent outburst, which resulted in his wife’s death, justified his jail term.

The court heard that, in July last year, Flanagan and his wife got into a row after she hid his car keys and credit card in a bid to stop him from gambling.

During the argument, he grabbed her by the throat and pinned her against a wall, and she fell to the floor dead.

He later moved her body into a ditch in the garden and covered it with twigs and leaves.

Over the next few weeks, her friends and family asked about her and he told a string of lies about where she was.

However, the court heard he ‘drank every day’ following her death and eventually confessed to a friend - while drunk - that he had killed her.

Police eventually found Mrs Flanagan’s body on August 17 and it was so badly decomposed that cause of death could not be established.

Flanagan admitted killing her and told detectives she had collapsed dead after he pushed her against the wall.

Sentencing him, the crown court judge said his actions after his wife’s death were not ‘foolish or misguided’ and that he knew very well what he was doing.

The judge said this was a ‘serious aggravating factor’ of the offence.

His lawyers argued the judge didn’t take enough account of Flanagan’s genuine remorse or the fact he had no previous convictions and had admitted his guilt upon his arrest.

But, rejecting his appeal bid, Judge Neil Bidder QC said there was nothing wrong with the sentence imposed on him.

Sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Mr Justice Green, he added: “There was careful consideration of all the relevant factors by the judge.

“We are quite unable to say that this sentence was manifestly excessive.”