Leslie Winnister handed indefinite hospital order for killing wife

Jealous BT executive, 68, battered wife, 66, to death with marble chopping board at £1.6m home after he became convinced she was having an affair ‘when she signed off text to handyman with a kiss’

  • Leslie Winnister, 69, ‘lost touch with reality’ when he attacked his wife Suzanne
  • The Old Bailey heard Mrs Winnister, 66, was attacked at her home in Bexley 
  • He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility  
  • Mr Winnister will be sent to a secure facility for an indefinite period  

A jealous BT executive battered his wife to death with a marble chopping board after she signed off a text to their handyman with a kiss, a court heard.

Leslie Winnister, 68, went to the pub for a pint and a packet of crisps after killing Suzanne Winnister, 66.

When he was arrested in his bloodstained clothes he told officers: ‘I’ve just had a terrible day.’

Mr Winnister was today handed an indefinite hospital order at the Old Bailey after admitting his wife’s manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.  He had previously denied her murder. 

His wife was found by family members with severe head and neck injuries at the couple’s gated mock-Tudor £1.6m house in Becketts Close, Bexley, at around 9.15pm on September 8 last year.

Winnister was discovered among the graves in a nearby churchyard after leaving the King’s Head pub in Bexley High Street. 

Leslie Winnister (pictured with his wife), 68, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of 66-year-old Suzanne Winnister in Bexley on the evening of September 8 last year. He was today handed an indefinite hospital order and has been sent to a secure facility

Mr Winnister served as BT’s treasurer for 15 years and was registered as a director of the telecom giant’s property and investment arms.

His wife was retired but had previously worked in banking.

Bill Emlyn-Jones, prosecuting, told the court that the couple had been married for nearly 40 years and seemed to have a happy and stable marriage.

‘It appears there was a marked deterioration of their relationship from about 2019 onwards,’ he said.

‘It maybe this was triggered by a text message sent by Mrs Winnister to the defendant by mistake.

‘It may have been meant for a Mr Alan Mainwaring, known as Alfie, who worked for the Winnisters as a handyman.

‘It said are you coming today, followed by an x, indicating a kiss,’ said Mr Emlyn-Jones.

When Winnister questioned his wife about it, she said this is how she signed off texts to all kinds of people, but he became convinced it meant she was having an affair.

The next time Mr Waiwaring visited their home in August last year, Winnister confronted him about the supposed affair and ranted about his wife trying to poison him.

He threatened the handyman with a crowbar and smashed some windows before running away.

Police arrested Winnister at a nearby pub but no charges were brought against him as the attack victim declined to give evidence.

‘After that incident Mrs Winnister indicated to the police as well as her friends and family and she was no longer willing to have the defendant in the same house as her,’ said the prosecutor.

The victim was discovered by family members at the couple’s home in Becketts Close and was pronounced dead at the scene after police and paramedics arrived. 

Winnister booked himself into a Holiday Inn and continued to have regular meetings with his wife, always in the presence of others, over several weeks.

‘They turned to be inevitably unhappy and fractious occasions, in which the angered defendant would repeat his allegations of his wife of infidelity,’ said the prosecutor.

Other outlandish accusations Winnister levelled at his wife included her interfering with his car and credit cards and poisoning him by pumping carbon monoxide into his hotel room.

As the weeks passed, Mrs Winnister became ‘upset’ at her husband’s deteriorating condition, noticing he looked unkept and was losing weight.

She reluctantly allowed him to move back into the marital home, but told friends and family she installed a lock to her bedroom door.

Two days later, after family was unable to reach Mrs Winnister on the phone, her niece Kate Cox drove to her address along with her husband Simon.

Mr Cox jumped over the fence to get into the house and found Mrs Winnister lying in a pool of blood in her kitchen.

The chopping board used to batter her to death was lying next to her body.

He had also slashed her throat with a knife and post-mortem examination held the next day gave the cause of death as severe head and neck injuries.

The court heard that after killing his wife, Winnister went to the pub where he ordered a pint and packet of crisps.

Pictured: Police outside the couple’s home in Bexley, south east London, last year

After his arrest, Winnister told officers in a prepared statement: ‘I believe I was drugged through my food and drink and through the air.

‘This was over the course of several months.

‘In my view, my wife and Mr Mainwaring were responsible for this.

‘As a result of the drugging I felt unwell and I was acting massively out of character.’

The court heard moving victim impact statements from several of Mrs Winnister’s loved ones.

Mr Cox said that the memory of discovering her body remains ‘imprinted on his mind’ and is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

‘I am angry with Les and the devastation he has done to his family.

‘My children lost not only an auntie, they lost an uncle,’ he said.

‘I hope that Les will come to terms with the gravity if his actions on the people who knew and loved Suzanne.

‘Not matter what, she didn’t deserve what was done to her.’

Mrs Cox said that Mrs Winnister was her ‘best friend’ and her ‘rock’ and the closest family to her and her daughters.

‘Leslie’s actions have changed our lives forever, taking the life of someone who was loved so very much.

‘We have experienced the worst possible loss that I can imagine,’ she added.

Mrs Winnister’s sister Jackie Higgins spoke of the moment she had to break the news of her death to their 92-year-old mother.

‘I will never forget telling my mum her daughter has died in such circumstances, at the hands of someone loved by our family,’ she said.

‘I miss Suzanne, I miss our daily chats by phone and I am struggling to come to terms with the fact I have to sister to chat or talk on the phone and never will again.’

Judge Wendy Joseph, said the events leading up to Mrs Winnister’s death an ‘unmitigated tragedy’ for the whole family.

‘It is clear that the suffering caused by her death is profound.

‘It has had a terrible effect on her mother, a lady in her 90s and in ill health.

‘It has left her sister utterly bereft.

‘It has also taken from those to whom she was and others who regarded her as an aunt, the love and support which she endlessly offered them, and from her friends it has taken someone they held in the highest regard.

‘Most importantly, it has taken from Suzanne, her future,’ said judge Joseph.

The judge noted that Winnister had been assessed by a mental health nurse on September 2 last year and told to come back in a week.

‘Too late. Six days later he killed his wife,’ the judge said.

‘Not only was this man palpably ill, but everyone knew it.

‘It was apparent before and during the time he killed,’ she added.

White-haired Winnister remained expressionless throughout his sentencing and was flanked by hospital workers in the dock.

Psychiatrists found he was mentally ill at the time he killed his estranged wife and his responsibility. 

He was sent to a secure mental hospital indefinitely.

It will be up to the doctors when and if he is ever fit to be released.

Judge Joseph said: ‘A further review was planned for one week’s time. Too late. Six days later he killed his wife.

‘Not only was this man palpably ill, everyone knew it. It was apparent before and during the time he killed.’ 

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