A man who killed his wife and then buried her in a shallow grave in his back garden – leaving her there for nearly a month – has been jailed.
Thomas Flanagan (born 01/03/1957), of Wigan Road, Leigh, pleaded guilty to manslaughter when he appeared before Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square today, 12 December 2014.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Flanagan and his wife Elaine, 57, lived a fairly isolated life at their marital home on Wigan Road. During the day on Friday 25 July 2014, the couple had a heated argument about a credit card. When interviewed later by police, Flanagan claimed his wife turned violent and slapped him, causing him to retaliate and grab her around the throat, pinning her up against the kitchen wall.
She then crumpled to the ground and Flanagan believed he had killed her. However, rather than call for an ambulance he began drinking vodka, leaving his wife dead on the kitchen floor.
Flanagan left his wife there on the floor for a few days until the body began to smell.
He then dragged her outside into the back garden and lay her in a ditch where they had once attempted to dig out a small fish pond.
Flanagan then carried on his life as normal, for nearly four weeks, until on the 17 August 2014 he was talking to a family friend. When the friend asked why he had not seen Elaine for some time, Flanagan replied that he’d killed her. He then attempted to pass this off as a joke, before repeating the allegation and claiming he had buried her in the back garden.
Concerned, the family friend called police who sent a patrol round to conduct a welfare check.
When the officers attended and got no reply, they went round to the back garden and found Elaine’s body, badly decomposed, lying in the shallow ditch covered with twigs and leaves.
Flanagan was immediately arrested, and told the arresting officer: ‘I’ve killed her. I strangled the woman. She got on my nerves and I strangled her. I went completely off my head and I’ll make a full confession. Sorry mate.’
Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe said: “We may never know exactly what happened in the kitchen on the fateful morning Elaine was killed, but what we do know for certain is that Flanagan had more than three weeks to inform the authorities that his wife had died. Instead he left Elaine’s body in a shallow grave in their back garden.
“The couple did not have many friends and kept themselves to themselves, so it was not until Thomas confessed to a friend that the police became aware that Elaine had been killed.