Dawn Clinton's father relives murder anguishBy Becky Barnes
September 06, 2012
The father of Dawn Clinton said reliving her death was ‘awful’ after her killer husband waited until the eleventh hour to change his plea.
Jon Clinton was due to face a re-trial at Reading Crown Court after his conviction was quashed, but at the last minute he admitted murdering the former Birch Hill Primary School dinner lady.
Clinton’s original sentence was slashed by six years when he was jailed for 20 years by Judge John Reddihough on Tuesday.
David Sims, whose daughter Dawn, 33, was beaten and strangled by Clinton, 46, at their home in Inchwood on November 15, 2010, said his plea change was ‘out of the blue’.
He said although family and friends had been spared a lengthy re-trial, which was due to begin on Monday, it had still been ‘awful’ to sit through it again when they were ‘trying to get over it’.
Mr Sims said: “If he had done that in the first place it would have saved a lot of pain and trouble.
“I am surprised the things people can get away with.”
He added: “Why he changed his plea we do not know – I was surprised about the reduced sentence.
“I thought it might have gone down perhaps three less but six – I think he is quite lucky.”
During the two-day hearing, Clinton intermittently sobbed as the court heard how he struck his wife at least eight times with a wooden baton and then strangled her.
The mother-of-two died from head injuries and asphyxia and he then stripped her and took photos on her mobile phone.
Andrew Edis, prosecuting, said Mrs Clinton was seeking to end her marriage as it had become ‘intolerable’.
Clinton was described as ‘controlling’ and ‘occasionally violent’ and had spied on his wife’s Facebook account when they entered a ‘trial separation’ and was upset she had changed her relationship status.
The court heard she had started a relationship with another man.
The night before he killed his wife, Clinton set fire to her beloved Land Rover, ‘Fred’.
Judge Reddihough, sentencing, described Clinton’s actions as ‘acts of terrible vengeance’ but said he had shown ‘sufficient remorse’.
He said: “By taking Dawn’s life at her young age her parents lost a daughter but most tragic of all your children have lost their mother at an important stage of their lives.
“Now they have to go through their own lives with the knowledge their mother was killed by their father.”
Mr Sims said: “With hindsight I think we missed something earlier on and it would have been better if we had taken Dawn out of the situation and try to get her own place.
“We missed that opening before this all kicked off.
“Jon was a controlling influence no matter whether it was at home, the Land Rover or computer.
“I was of the old school view – I said you have got two children and you made your bed, you lie in it.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Mr Sims, who cares for the couple’s two teenage children, said they are both doing well.
Clinton will serve a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years running concurrently with two years for arson.
He was originally sentenced to a minimum of 26 years in May 2011 but his conviction was quashed in January when a change in the law saw the murder defence of provocation replaced with ‘loss of control’.