A 73-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil woman who beat her disabled husband to death with a wooden pole after suffering years of abuse has been cleared of his murder. Packiam Ramanathan, 73, killed her 76-year-old spouse Kanagusabi Ramanathan at their home in East Ham, east London (UK), on 21 September.
The jury was told the couple had an arranged marriage in 1983 and fled Sri Lanka in the civil war. Mr Ramanathan was found with serious head injuries and multiple wounds to the body and neck after Packiam Ramanathan told her neighbour she had hit her husband.
She told the court she snapped after discovering he was already married to another woman and had fathered three children with her. The jury believed her version of events and took just 30 minutes to acquit the pensioner of murdering her former factory worker husband.
The couple are originally from Sri Lanka and have also lived in Germany before moving to London in 2007. She had earlier admitted manslaughter and was remanded in custody by Judge Anuja Dhir QC ahead of sentence on Friday.
Mrs Ramanathan had told the court her husband beat her and frequently accused her of infidelity with a fishmonger who called her ‘darling’. The Old Bailey heard she was ‘married off’ to her husband aged 37 in Sri Lanka after her parents died.
The Ramanathans then fled the country in 1983 as refugees to Bavaria, Germany, in 1985, and lived in a camp for two years. Giving evidence, Ramanathan said she lost control after years of abusive behaviour during which her husband had thrown sticks at her and accused her of having an affair with the fishmonger.
Describing the killing, the defendant said: “I don’t know how I did it. For me I still feel like somebody else did it.”
The jury deliberated for half an hour to find Ramanathan not guilty of murder. She will be sentenced on Friday for manslaughter.