NewsCrime Desk

Classical musician strangled and beat his concert pianist wife to death

Natalia Strelchenko
Natalia Strelchenko

A classical musician will be sentenced for murdering his world-renowned concert pianist wife after beating and strangling her to death.

Norwegian national John Martin, 48, was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court on Friday of killing 4ft 11in Natalia Strelchenko at their home on their second wedding anniversary.

He was cleared of the attempted murder of a male youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The trial heard that the couple had a volatile relationship and would row about Ms Strelchenko's lack of household chores and financial contributions.

The prosecution said double-bass player Martin had been jealous of his Russian-born wife's career taking off while his did not, and said he had felt like her "servant".

A guest at the couple's home in Newton Heath, Manchester, told the court that, on the evening of August 29 last year, Martin "exploded" in front of a group of musicians in a row with Ms Strelchenko about barbecue food.

Three-times married Martin left the house after drinking around four cans of cider and returned at around midnight.

A friend, who had been staying at the couple's home, described how Martin flew at petite Ms Strelchenko "like an animal", throwing himself and his wife down the stairs before repeatedly punching her body.

When the female guest pleaded with him to stop, Martin, a computer science and maths graduate who had worked for computer giant IBM, said: "I want to kill her."

"Controlling" Martin claimed he had no memory of pushing her, falling down the stairs or of the struggle that followed after taking a mix of alcohol and diazepam, which he said he had mistaken for his anti-depressant medication.

A consultant psychiatrist for the defence told the jury he believed Martin was suffering at the time from "a severe depressive episode".

When police arrived at their home in Culcheth Lane on August 30, Martin repeatedly said "kill me, kill me please, I have nothing to live for, I do not deserve to live", which was caught on an officer's bodycam.

Ms Strelchenko, who attended the prestigious St Petersburg State Conservatory in her homeland and performed in concerts with a full orchestra, died a short time later in hospital.

She had 76 injuries, including 45 separate marks to her head and neck, having suffered repeated blows to the front of her face.

Her central and left-sided facial bones were left free floating from the rest of her skull and her jawbone was snapped in half. Parts of her skull were severely fractured.

Martin will be sentenced by Mrs Justice Cox at Manchester Crown Court.