Thomas Nutt: husband murdered wife hours after their wedding and then stuffed her body into a suitcase
Thomas Nutt, who has been jailed for at least 21 years, murdered his wife Dawn Walker then stuffed her body into a suitcase
Chilling CCTV footage shows the final time a woman strangled and beaten to death by her husband just after they got married was seen alive.
The footage captures Dawn Walker in her wedding dress as she returned home with Thomas Nutt after they got married.
Nutt has been jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years for murdering his wife on their wedding night, and then stuffing her body into a suitcase.
The footage also shows Nutt dragging the case containing Ms Walker’s body out of their home, before trying to cover the tracks left by the case later on.
After killing Ms Walker, Nutt carried out the “ghastly charade” of saying she had gone missing, and even put up Halloween decorations.
The body of the 52-year-old grandmother was found in a field four days after she married Nutt on 27 October last year.
Bradford Crown Court heard Nutt, 45, killed Ms Walker shortly after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase.
The court heard that Nutt broke her leg so he could fit her corpse into the suitcase, which he later tossed over a fence before hiding it in bushes, where her remains were found four days after they married.
Nutt lied to her family, blaming her disappearance on her mental health, sent them false texts supposedly from her, and convinced her youngest daughter to help try to find her, all the while knowing she was dead.
He had controlled Ms Walker for years and isolated her from members of family, her sister told the court.
What did the judge say?
Nutt killed the mother-of-three hours after their wedding when they returned to their home in Lightcliffe, near Halifax, West Yorkshire on the night of 27 October.
He told police they had gone on honeymoon to Skegness the next day, but the judge said there was no evidence to support that claim, and the judge was sure Ms Walker was already dead.
The killer “desecrated” her body by breaking bones to make her fit in the suitcase, Judge Rose said.
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Rose told him: “Dawn Walker died because you are a bully, used to getting your own way with women, used to controlling and manipulating women and used to using your considerable size advantage to inflict violence on women if you considered it necessary to do so.”
What have Ms Walker’s family said?
Her daughter Kiera-Lee Guest said in her victim impact statement: “This man took the most beautiful soul. He is the most selfish person I know.
“What he did to my mum is beyond cruel. He has broken this family but we have the strength to get the justice she deserves.
“Not only did he beat and abuse her, he disrespected her in so many ways which ended in him taking her life.
“I think of her last hours or minutes and think about how scared she would have been at this time.
“He took me and my son looking for her knowing she was dead. I was so worried.
“He then took me back to the house and I prepared my son lunch in the same spot my mum had been killed so violently.
“It goes over and over in my mind where was she at that time? Why did he involve me in his cruel joke? Was he laughing at me?
“I then remember he put up Halloween decorations. I can’t stand the thought of that. While my mum was dead in the house.
“I feel angry and frustrated at the world and all this pain and anger is because I trusted the man that killed my mum.
“I will never forgive you and never forget what you caused.”
In a statement, read out in court, Dawn’s eldest daughter Codie said:
“Losing our mother, sister, daughter, nanna and auntie has had a huge impact on our lives. There are no words to describe how it feels for us every single day, waking up knowing what this person did to her, it is truly heart breaking for each and every one of us.
“We will have to live with his actions for the rest of our lives. Could we have done more to protect her from him? I pray he is never allowed to do this to another family. Today he is finally held accountable for his actions, and he is never allowed to abuse, manipulate or take away the life of another woman.
“We would like to thank family and friends for their support during this time but also to the police and prosecution team for helping us fight for justice for Dawn.”
Ms Walker’s sister Lisa said Nutt manipulated his victim and isolated her from family for three years “before his ungodly hands took her away from us forever”.
Lisa Walker told the court: “I mourn for my sister who suffered so much and felt like she had nobody to turn to because this man made her feel worthless.”
Nutt had told police his wife had gone missing
Jurors were told that Nutt, who did not give evidence in the trial, admitted the manslaughter of his wife on the basis that “he did not intend to cause her really serious harm at the time at which he killed her”.
But on Wednesday, a jury found him guilty of murder after three hours of deliberation. There were cheers in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told jurors: “It is often said that someone’s wedding day, and the period immediately following, is one of the happiest times of their life.”
He said that this was not the case for Ms Walker “because her body was found stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into some undergrowth in a field towards the back of this defendant’s house four days after she was married”.
Mr MacDonald told the court that Nutt rang police on 31 October telling them his wife had gone missing after leaving their home in , Lightcliffe, near Halifax, that morning, and he appeared to mount a search.
The prosecutor said the “hard and stark reality” was that the defendant “knew perfectly well that her body was lying dead in a cupboard at the marital home”.
Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Nutt wheeling a large suitcase out of the back of his house and into nearby bushes just as a police officer arrives at his front door to follow up the defendant’s missing person report.
Nutt handed himself in to a police station
Mr MacDonald said Nutt then handed himself in to a police station and told officers he and Ms Walker had been on a two-day caravan honeymoon, staying in a layby at Skegness.
The prosecutor said the defendant told police: “We came back and she has got bipolar and is depressed, said she wanted to get divorced.
“She put me in jail before, said I had tried raping and assaulting her.
“Said she was going to do it again. She started screaming and I have hit her in the face and put my arm round her neck.”
Mr MacDonald said it was the prosecution case that Nutt went to Skegness alone, having killed his wife on their wedding night or the day after, and left her body in the house.
The prosecutor said Nutt returned to act out the “ghastly charade” of telling her daughter she was missing and carrying out a search.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the defendant and Ms Walker arriving at the Prince Albert pub in Brighouse for a reception after their wedding at Brighouse Register Office.
Mr MacDonald said witnesses described how Nutt and Ms Walker had been together for a number of years but had a “troubled” relationship.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Amanda Wimbles, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said:
“Dawn Walker’s family have been left absolutely devastated by her death in such violent circumstances. This has been a dreadful crime, especially given the couple had only recently married.
“Our thoughts continue to be with Dawn’s family, who have shown great dignity and strength through what has understandably been a devastating time for them. No verdict or sentence will bring Dawn back to her family. I hope however, that in getting justice they can begin to move forward with their lives.”