Search

Killer walks free from court

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:00 03 March 2010

FELIXSTOWE woman Zena Burton, who admitted strangling her partner with a television flex, was today free after escaping a jail sentence.

Burton, 45, had pleaded not guilty to murdering her partner John Westgate, 36, at their home in Undercliff Road West last September.

FELIXSTOWE woman Zena Burton, who admitted strangling her partner with a television flex, was today free after escaping a jail sentence.

Burton, 45, had pleaded not guilty to murdering her partner John Westgate, 36, at their home in Undercliff Road West last September.

But, she admitted in an appearance at Norwich Crown Court last month that she had committed manslaughter by reasonable provocation.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, Judge David Mellor handed Burton – who has a long history of being abused – a three year community rehabilitation order, which is designed to address her alcohol problems.

Just four days after England had famously beaten Germany 5-1 in Munich, Burton had strangled John Westgate with a television flex at the home they shared in Felixstowe.

Burton, who was described in the earlier court appearance as "highly patriotic", strangled her partner during the England World Cup Qualifier against Albania after the couple had argued.

Burton told police after the incident that she had been fooling around with the TV aerial flex and put it around his neck because she wouldn't let him watch the match.

Both Burton and Westgate had consumed large amounts of alcohol on the day of the incident – Burton herself had consumed three litres of strong cider.

It was an incident which Judge David Mellor summed up as "a spontaneous reaction".

He said: "On September 5 last year, drunk and angry, you pulled a television cord tight against the neck of John Westgate, killing him.

"By your pleas of guilty to the offence of manslaughter by reason of provocation, you have admitted that you intended at the very least to cause him to suffer serious bodily harm.

"In that respect your plea has taken you beyond that which you were prepared to concede to psychiatrists who have seen you, or indeed to the Probation officer who has seen you since you entered, and the Crown accepted that plea. It is clear that your action was completely unpremeditated and a spontaneous reaction to provocation by your victim.

"That provocation was in itself relatively trivial – you were both drunk and you were both behaving badly – but it has to be seen in the context of your history and particularly in the context of your relationship with Westgate."

Yesterday, Burton sat motionless in court as Judge Mellor recapped the catalogue of abuse, which was a constant in her adult life until the point she killed Westgate.

"You had a happy and normal childhood. Teenage romance and teenage pregnancy led to a marriage that did not endure but which was, at least, free from violence. The breakdown of that marriage was followed by long term relationships with two partners each of whom abused you grievously.

"The first of those partners served sentences of two and a half and three and a half years when the injuries he inflicted upon you became so grave that you could no longer cover for him by seeking to explain away what was being done to you."

He went on to document some of the appalling violence Burton had suffered at the hands of Westgate.

"The sentence I shall pass will be designed to help you to recognise and overcome your own problems with alcohol and those problems with relationships that seem to make you a magnet for men who have it within them to abuse and thus to reduce the risk of crime, whether crime with you as perpetrator or with you as victim."


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star