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Murder trial hears from defendant’s ex-partner
A FORMER partner of a murder accused has told a court how he was violent towards her and once spent all their money on slot machines.
Caroline Wardell said that Graham Gibson – the father of three of her 12 children – was a moody gambler who was strict with the children at home.
She told a jury at Teesside Crown Court that Gibson had attacked her a number of times during their five-year relationship in the 1990s.
The former factory worker is accused of murdering his most recent partner, Christine Henderson, at a house in Middlesbrough in July.
The prosecution claims Gibson had been violent towards Mrs Henderson, 50, in the past and had stolen from her to feed his gambling habit.
A week before the “brutal and sustained” knife killing, the mother-of-three left the couple’s home in Hartlepool and moved in with a friend.
Gibson, 47, tracked her down after bombarding her with phone calls, texts and Facebook messages, and Mrs Henderson agreed to meet him.
At the house in Cherwell Terrace, on the Brambles Farm estate, she was knifed 12 times – 11 times in the head, chest and neck – and died.
Divorcee Gibson, of Kent Avenue, Hartlepool, denies murder.
He claims he was provoked by Mrs Henderson and lost his self-control.
Jamie Hill, QC, prosecuting, described the defence as weak and told the jury Gibson stabbed Mrs Henderson to death in a rage.
The jury yesterday heard from one of Mrs Henderson’s daughters, who said both she and her mother were assaulted by Gibson last year.
Nicole Henderson, 19, said she saw Gibson pin down her mother while the couple were arguing at their home in Hartlepool in December.
The teenager said she tried to calm him down after he smashed a mobile phone to stop his partner ringing the police to report him.
“He shouted in my face ‘This has nothing to do with you’,” she told the jury. “He grabbed me and chucked me across the yard.”
Police investigated the assaults, but the case was dropped when Mrs Henderson got back together with Gibson, and convinced her daughter not to press charges.
Ms Wardell said he had once punched her in the head, once thumped her in the nose and also picked her up and threw her to the ground.
Maura McGowan, QC for the defence, asked her: “He wasn’t violent towards you, was he?”. She replied: “Not all the time, but he could be.”