A classic car restorer who strangled his bed-hopping former wife a year after she foretold her own death was jailed for eight years yesterday.
Deana Noddings, 46, was convinced that Colin Noddings, 54, who had abused her before, would kill her.
He launched the fatal attack at the home they still shared because he feared that she was about to walk out on him again - this time for her married boss.
A jury at Nottingham Crown Court last month cleared Noddings of murder after he said that she had pushed him over the edge with one affair after another. He was found guilty instead of manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.
The court heard that he told detectives that theirs was a "fatal attraction", adding: "It turned out to be fatal, didn't it?" He said he strangled her when "everything went black" after she admitted her latest affair and taunted him: "He was better than you." The court heard that Mrs Noddings wrote a letter 364 days before she died and put it in an envelope marked: "To whom it may concern." Detectives investigating her death found it in her desk at work.
It said: "Should anything untoward happen to me, I want it in black and white. . . that this would be done by my ex-husband. I know what he is like." The court heard that it was "love at first sight" when the couple met in the late 1970s, when Mrs Noddings, then 17, was working in a London pub. They married and settled in Essex but soon found their relationship dominated by Noddings's "manipulative" behaviour and his wife's infidelity.
In the mid-90s she left him for Michael Sullivan, 60, a college tutor, with whom she enjoyed sex sessions involving bondage, spanking and wearing maid's outfits. Noddings waged a campaign of harassment to force his wife to return home but in 1997 she fled Essex for Lincolnshire to start a new life. They were divorced that year.
Two years later she started seeing Douglas Mitchell, a millionaire businessman. Again Noddings harassed the couple until his wife allowed him to move back in with her. But by last October their relationship was again in tatters.
Mrs Noddings began another affair, this time with David Dunderdale, 57, the married boss of an electrical firm, W T Parker, where she was a clerk. Noddings confronted them the night before the killing, telling Mr Dunderdale: "She f***ed her last two bosses and she'll do that to you."
Mrs Noddings called the police and said that her ex-husband had previously threatened to throttle her "until her eyes popped out of her head".
The next day Noddings put up a sign outside their home in the village of Ingoldsby, Lincs, telling neighbours of her unfaithfulness. He killed her hours later when she ignored police advice by failing to ask officers to accompany her when she went to collect some belongings.
Noddings told the court that his wife had had affairs with three businessmen, a dog warden, the college professor and two other men. But he added: "I feel have lost my best friend. I never intended to hurt her at all."
Noddings described his former wife as "drop-dead gorgeous" and said: "I basically loved her to bits. I loved everything about her."
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Nelson said that Noddings was "an obsessive, possessive and besotted man".
But he accepted that he had suffered "substantial provocation", not just in the moments before the killing but throughout his marriage.
"The previous day you discovered her with her lover, one of several she had had through the years of a tempestuous and volatile relationship. You were suffering from very powerful and mixed emotions. It was this provocation which triggered you into doing that which you had contemplated."
James Burbidge, QC, defending, told the court that Mrs Noddings's taunt was the last straw for her husband after "many previous acts of infidelity".
Mrs Noddings's family angrily denounced the sentence after learning that her killer could be free in four years. Her sister Tina said the entire legal system should feel "embarrassed" by the outcome of the case.
"This is just one more injustice," she said. "You do what you want, snuff out a life and this is all that you get. Deana was a bubbly and attractive woman who was liked by everyone. But now she has been let down by
the justice system. Noddings killed her because he realised he was going to lose her again, possibly for good."