Horse expert convicted of murdering her husband at their farm

A horse expert has been convicted of murdering her husband at their Devon home.

Christine Rawle, 69, killed Ian Rawle, 72, by stabbing him in the back with a knife at their property in Braunton on August 21, 2022.

Exeter Crown Court heard Mr Rawle then followed his wife of 29 years for a hundred yards, imploring her to remove the knife from his back, before collapsing and dying from the wound.

Christine Rawle was arrested at her home (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)
Christine Rawle was arrested at her home in Braunton, Devon (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

Prosecuting, Sean Brunton KC said the killing was “as clear a case of murder as you are likely to find”, with Rawle attacking her husband in a “fit of temper” during an argument about land at their £800,000 home.

Rawle did not give evidence during her trial but her legal team insisted she had been a victim of coercive and controlling behaviour from her husband, and stabbed him in self-defence.

The jury rejected her account and convicted her of murder following three hours and seven minutes of deliberations.

Judge James Adkin told the panel: “Thank you very much for your close attention to this case.

“It wasn’t an easy case, there was quite a lot of complicated evidence for you to consider.”

The jury watched videos Rawle had filmed of her husband (CPS/PA)
The jury watched videos Rawle had filmed of her husband (CPS/PA)

It was alleged that Rawle fatally attacked her husband with a knife at about 2.15pm, as he pushed a wheelbarrow of manure towards the muck heap.

In his closing speech to the jury, Sean Brunton KC, prosecuting, described Rawle as “almost compulsively manipulative”.

He told the jury: “The issue of self-defence doesn’t arise. It is a non-issue.

“He is walking away from her, pushing the wheelbarrow after 30 years of marriage. What was she threatened by? By nothing.”

Mr Brunton said Rawle had “unfettered access to money” from her husband, with the couple living with “no debts, a lovely house, and plenty of money”.

Rawle told police she had been the victim of domestic abuse (CPS/PA)
Rawle told police she had been a victim of domestic abuse (CPS/PA)

Her daughter rang police after hearing Rawle say “I’ve stabbed him, I’ve stabbed him”. A call operator for the ambulance service then rang Rawle to help her administer first aid.

But instead, Rawle could be heard telling her husband: “Dick you bastard, you’ve been such a bastard to me”, and said to the operator: “He was on and on at me, I am watching him die in front of me”.

When police arrived at the scene, and during police interview, Rawle claimed she had been subjected to years of psychological and physical violence from her husband.

The defendant, who has been diagnosed with depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder, insisted she believed he was going to kill her when she attacked him.

Christine Rawle court case
Court artist sketch of Christine Rawle, 69, (left) at Exeter Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Rawle’s son Thomas told the jury how Mr Rawle had subjected his mother to years of abuse, and tried to control her by hiding her car keys – describing her as a “fat pig”.

A friend of Rawle said she waited on her husband “hand and foot” but he would accuse her of being lazy and useless, with Rawle confiding that she wanted a divorce.

However, one work colleague of Mr Rawle told the court she was concerned he was the victim of domestic abuse and tried to find him a support service.

She described seeing Mr Rawle with a black eye, which he said was caused by his wife. On one occasion, Rawle rang the workplace and told the witness: “Tell Ian to look in the mirror because he isn’t Kevin Costner”.

A mechanic who knew Mr Rawle since the 1980s told how Rawle would describe her husband as lazy, and when he asked why she called him Dick, she replied “because he’s a f****** dickhead”.

On the morning of the murder, Rawle texted a friend: “I hope the c*** dies”.

Rawle, who remains in custody, will be sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on Friday afternoon.

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