In the Media

'Shania Twain' shotgun killer is jailed for life

PUBLISHED June 26, 2006

A woman who claimed she accidentally shot dead her husband while gyrating with a shotgun to the Shania Twain song Man! I Feel Like a Woman, was jailed for life yesterday, with a minimum term of 16 years.

Linda West, 49, was found guilty earlier this month of the murder of her husband, marine engineer Gregory West, as he sat in a chair at the couple's flat in Southampton.

West had claimed that after performing an erotic dance to the song, she slammed the shotgun to the floor to take a bow and accidentally shot her husband in the heart, killing him instantly.

The hysterical housewife dialled 999 and sobbed down the phone: "Oh my God, I have shot him."

Police, called to the flat in Southampton, found the 45-year-old marine engineer dead in an armchair wearing only a dressing gown.

During the trial she was asked to re-enact the performance using a broom handle instead of the weapon and claimed she and her husband had shared a "lovely evening," drinking wine and she had run a bath for him.

When he came out of the bathroom she decided to put on a show to get him excited and began dancing to the song by country singer Shania Twain which was playing on a stereo.

She said that Mr West then disappeared into the bedroom of their flat, reappeared with his shotgun and asked her to dance with it.

The prosecution said that neighbours of the couple, who had been married for only nine weeks, had heard them arguing that evening.

West did not mention her dance during police interviews, and could not explain how the weapon, which had a defective safety mechanism, came to be loaded.

The jury took eight and a half hours to reject West's account and convict her of murder. West shook uncontrollably in the dock as Judge Guy Boney QC sentenced her to life in prison and said she must serve a minimum of 16 years.

The judge told West: "Your account of a happy domestic evening cannot be true. That must be the reason why the jury disregarded your account of an erotic dance which ended in the discharge of the shotgun."

The judge said he did not believe it was a planned killing, but a crime that took place with little forethought, in a "short period of drunken madness. I accept that you are utterly devastated and distraught at the enormity of what you did".

In a witness statement read to the court, Mr West's mother Clare described how her husband, David, had died of leukaemia six months after his son's killing. She said her husband felt responsible because he had given the shotgun to his son.

"Following the news of Greg's death, David deteriorated markedly," Mrs West said. "David also felt quite responsible and guilty for Greg's death. I felt David had lost the will to carry on his fight against his illness."

Paying tribute to her son, she said: "Nothing can bring back and replace the gap left in so many people's lives. He will be missed and loved by us all."

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Andy Stewart, of Hampshire police, said: "I am very pleased with the sentence. Clearly, 16 years is very appropriate in this case."

He added: "This has been total devastation for the families involved. My admiration goes out to Linda's children, who have given evidence twice in this case, and my heart goes out to Greg West's family, who have lost not only Greg's dad but also Greg.

"No verdict or sentence can ever compensate for their loss."