Former St Albans man slit his partner’s throat with kitchen knife

A RETIRED St Albans lecturer has been jailed for five years after being convicted of stabbing his partner to death.

Three-times married Ronald Edwards, 65, who lived in the St Albans area for years but was living in Fielden, Ardley End, in Essex at the time of Sylvia Rowley-Bailey’s death, was acquitted of her murder.

He attacked the twice-divorced 66 year old with whom he had been living since 2004, severing her jugular and pulmonary artery and slitting her neck from her ear to her throat with a 13cm long kitchen knife in June last year.

Edwards, a retired lecturer in plumbing at Oaklands College, St Albans, denied murder but accepted that he had committed manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that the couple met in 2002 when Edwards, a father of three and grandfather of six, was living temporarily with his mother in St Albans and Mrs Rowley-Bailey was living near Great Dunmow in Essex.

Edwards, a former bus driver and water company inspector who taught plumbing at Oaklands from 2002 until 2006, had been an active member of St Paul’s Church in Hatfield Road, St Albans, and was also a member of the footpaths society.

He and Mrs Rowley-Bailey discovered they shared interests in DIY and photography and decided to move in together two years after their first meeting.

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But the usually active Edwards suffered a massive heart attack at the time and two years later underwent a quadruple by-pass.

The couple’s relationship deteriorated until they were no longer talking to each other and she had split the bungalow into his-and-her sitting rooms. On the morning of her death she told him she could no longer sleep in “her” bed and tore into him, including allegedly wishing his 88-year-old mother in St Albans dead so he would inherit and could buy out her share of their �310,000 bungalow.

Edwards admitted he attacked her and caused her death but claimed that he was provoked and temporarily lost his self-control.

She was found in their study where she had been sitting at the computer that morning with 11 slash wounds and 12 separate stab wounds to her neck, chest and upper body.

Edwards did not call 999 until up to half an hour after the attack, telling the operator he had contacted his solicitor for advice. He had also removed his bloodstained clothing and left it in a bundle in the hallway.

Neighbours told the court how they heard Mrs Rowley-Bailey shouting during the six years the couple lived in Fielden and described her as the dominant party. Although she was heard to berate and belittle Edwards he never answered back.

Two of her estranged children gave statements in Edwards’ defence, one of whom had been thrown out of home at the age of 15 and voluntarily put herself into care.

Sentencing Edwards, High Court judge Mr Justice Andrew Nicol said that the nine months during which Mrs Rowley-Bailey had been openly critical of him had come to a head on the day of her death.

He pointed out that Edwards had shown genuine remorse to 999 operators, police at the scene and when giving evidence. Witnesses had described him as a non-violent and unflappable person.