A WOMAN who ended her “living nightmare” by murdering her violent partner has been jailed for life and told she must serve at least 11 years in prison.
Sharon Hollinsworth, 44, struck Andrew Oates, also 44, more than 20 times on the head with a hammer, after she and her children plotted his death.
Daughter Natalie Hollinsworth, 22, was jailed for five years, and son Christopher Hollinsworth, 19, received a sentence of four years and two months at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday last week. The court heard that Mr Oates “turned into a monster in the blink of an eye” and subjected his family to years of physical and mental abuse.
He had an obsession with the occult and beat his partner after dreaming that she was having an affair with the gunman Raoul Moat.
Lord Doherty told Hollinsworth that he accepted Mr Oates had a controlling personality and that she and the children lived in fear of him.
She had struck the first blow in response to an attempt by Mr Oates to attack her son.
However, he added: “You brutally murdered him by bludgeoning him to death with a hammer.”
The 11-year minimum jail term is among the most lenient to be imposed in recent times.
The family of Mr Oates complained the case had taken 22 months to reach court and that it had cost £10,000 to have the body released to be buried.
They said: “We would like to redress the picture painted of Andrew. He was a kind and generous man.
“We feel the justice system has let us down and the sentence does not fit the crime. What sort of woman involves her children to conspire to murder? We suggest a very evil one.”
Hollinsworth admitted murdering Mr Oates at their home in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, in October 2010.
The couple’s son, Christopher, and Hollinsworth’s daughter Natalie pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to murder.
Mother and children arrived at Grampian Police headquarters in Aberdeen in the early hours of a Sunday morning, and she said she had killed her partner the previous Friday night. The body of Mr Oates, trussed with cable ties and wrapped in a tarpaulin and duvet cover, was found in a bedroom.
He had died from blows to the head, and a bloodstained hammer in a plastic bag was recovered from under a bed.
Hollinsworth described Mr Oates as a violent bully and an alcoholic, and the advocate-depute, Kath Harper, said the Crown accepted that he had assaulted Hollinsworth during their 18-year relationship.
“Sharon Hollinsworth told the police it was her intention to bury the body in the back garden. She confirmed she had started to dig, but couldn’t go through with it,” said Ms Harper.
Examination of mobile phones revealed that, before the murder, Hollinsworth and her children had discussed Mr Oates and their fear and unhappiness at living with him.
“There was a plan to get rid of him with the use of a hammer,” said Ms Harper.
In a text, Hollinsworth had stated: “iv no guilt about tryin or wantin to do it, my guilt will be with me 4 not doin it, all I want 2 do is protect u both”
The defence counsel, Jack Davidson, QC, said most of Hollinsworth’s time with Mr Oates had been “a living nightmare” of mental and physical abuse.
Initially, she had thought he would change, and then she became too frightened to leave because she knew he had no intention of letting her go.
Mr Oates had corresponded with Charles Bronson, often referred to as Britain’s most violent prisoner and someone who shared an interest in the occult, said Mr Davidson.