Yorkshire woman Pauline Caster sentenced for murder of husband
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Yorkshire woman Pauline Caster sentenced for murder of husband

Jul 25, 2023

Caster pleaded guilty to murder on the third day of her trial

A Rotherham woman will be sentenced today for the brutal murder of her husband.

Pauline Caster, 44, has been on trial at Sheffield Crown Court but yesterday, on the third day of the trial, she pleaded guilty to murder. The court heard that at around 9.55pm on October 19, 2021, emergency services were called to High Hazel Crescent. Caster was seen running in the street and was screaming that her husband was dead.

Paramedics found 43-year-old Kevin Caster injured at their home and he was taken to hospital but was tragically pronounced dead later that evening.

On the night of Kevin's death, witnesses reported hearing Caster shouting at Kevin and a number of people reported seeing her making gestures, as if she was stamping on something, through the window. CCTV footage also showed Caster stamping on Kevin while he lay on the floor. She then waited an hour and a half before calling for help.

Caster changed her story multiple times as she spoke to people who ran to help her.

She will be sentenced by the Recorder of Sheffield, His Honour Judge Jeremy Richardson KC at around 11am.

Updates will load into the live blog below.

Read the full story here.

Judge Richardson has passed a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of seven years and three months, less 170 days, spent in custody before she goes before the Parole Board who will decide if she can be released on licence.

"You will only be released on licence if it is safe to do," the judge said.

He said: "You are never free of a life sentence if you are released on licence...

"I cannot describe enough how unusual this case is in so many respects I have sought to explain."

Judge Richardson said the minimum term Caster must serve in custody of 15 years is taken down to nine years due to her contribution to her husband's death.

This is then reduced again to eight years due to her "baleful upbringing, psychiatric state, family support."

He said: "You have pleaded guilty and the sentence must be reduced in the way I must describe so the minimum term is seven years and three months less the 170 days spent on remand."

The judge says Caster's conduct contributed to Kevin's death but it was not the sole cause. He said: "You are unquestionably guilty of murder - you acknowledge that but it is very important that I look at the entire context of this case when forming my judgement. I have sought to do so."

Judge Richardson said Caster could not plead until the commencement of the trial and she has "by guilty plea saved a great deal of court time."

He said: "There are many other advantages to the public by guilty plea and was an act of courage. It is an unusual state of affairs for a defendant to plead guilty to murder during a trial."

The judge says he has come to the conclusion it is fair to Caster to reduce the sentence by one tenth as a result of the guilty plea.

The court has heard Caster's intention was to cause really serious injury, not to kill her husband. Judge says there was "no premeditation in this case whatsoever" and he has consideration for a psychiatric report which showed Caster had "an abusive upbringing" and "over the years has been involved in abusive relationship and what can only be summarised as a wretched marriage."

It has been said Caster has suffered a depressive disorder.

Judge Richardson told Caster that Kevin "was not only loved by you but other family members."

The statements read to the court earlier are now being referenced and summarised.

Judge Richardson says he has "little doubt" Caster was "nagry, annoyed and accutely irritated by what he had done to himself."

He said: "You then assaulted your husband. This was observed in part by a neighbour and it was also captured in part in CCTV material which has been shown in court. Over several minutes you stamped upon your husband, you punched him and you kicked him. At one stage you were heard to say 'Are you hurting you b******?' There was a considerable delay of approximately one hour and 40 minutes before the emergency services were alerted.

"When the body was examined by the pathologist there were many blunt force injuries to the body. To use ordinary language, you had badly beaten up your husband. There were two reasons why he died: First, the drugs and the second, you beating him up. Your conduct made a material contribution to his death but I repeat: He would have died in any event had you done nothing."

The judge says there are features that make the case serious: Kevin's vulnerability and Caster's due to their addictions and her problems in life. He added that at the time Caster assaulted Kevin he was "borderline comatose" and had "no means of defending himself."

The judge said: "The assault upon him was determined and sustained."

The judge says a sentence of life imprisonment must be imposed. He said Caster has no relevant previous convictions. He said: "It is very important to note your intention when you assaulted your husband was to inflict grievous bodily harm, it was not to kill your husband.

"The backdrop to the circumstances of this case are as follows: Your husband was 43 at the time of his death, you had been married for over 22 years, you had three children. Your relationship was volatile, it was, as the prosecution asert, punctuation with frequent, almost daily arguments which involved low level violence inflicted by each of you on the other, you both habitually abused drugs and this conduct had gone on for many years prior to events on 19th October 2021.

"Indeed the events of that day were similar in respect to many other days. The deceased consumed a cocktail of drugs."

The judge said one of the drugs, taken in the quantity consumed by Kevin "would have killed him in any event" even if Caster had done nothing." He added: "He would have succumbed and died. That is an important factor in this case. It is an extremely unusual situation."

The judge added that there are a number of important matters to consider, including Caster's guilty plea after the trial had started and a witness had given evidence and the statements of two others had been read. He said proceedings were at an early stage.

Judge Richardson said: "Yesterday, on the third day of the trial, you pleaded guilty to the crime of murder.

"You now fall for sentence for the murder of your husband... The circumstances of this case are both tragic and extremely unusual. First, the lives each of you led together may only be characterised as comprehensively wretched. Your conduct was corrosive for both of you.

"It was and has been described by family members as a toxic relationship. I accept that you and your husband loved each other, but you both abused the medication of each other. Second, the particularly unusual feature of this case is that regardless of what you did to the victim, he would have died in any event within a few minutes of you inflicting the physical injuries upon him.

"It appears he had taken an overdose of an epilepsy drug. It was a fatal overdose. There is no evidence whatsoever that you administered that drug. There was in your relationship, a relentless avalanche of abusive conduct to each other and self abuse."

Judge Richardson will now sentence Pauline Caster.

Judge Richardson says he will sentence at around 2pm.

"The three children have given in their statements, extremely supportive commentaries as far as their mother is concerned," Mr Berry said.

He says he has also spoke to Caster's mother, sister and friends of the family "and everything they [the children] have said in the statement is magnified when they spoke to her is that they want nothing more for her that she will recover after a spell in prison. They will visit her regularly with her grandchildren, which she has two."

The barrister said: "In prison she appears to be doing very well. All she wants to do is impress those responsible for her."

Anthony Berry KC is now outlining the relationship between Caster and Kevin.

Mr Shafi says it was "highly, highly likely, Caster had also taken a cocktail of drugs when she killed her husband.

A statement from Kevin's son, on behalf of the other children, will now be read. He said: "Throughout our childhoods we lived in the family home and witnessed their eelationship first hand and it can be described as toxic. They loved each other and I would say they loved each other too much...

"They both used to abuse medications they had been prescribed. They enjoyed the highs this gave them. If they were prescribed a week's worth of medication on a Monday they would take it all that day. They would also illegally buy more of this medication to take. Under the influence of drugs they would have aggressive and verbal arguments."

The court has heard Kevin would attack Pauline and the children would stay in a bedroom "shaking" and he would "genuinely fear he would kill my mum."

He said: "I have never seen my mum attack my dad. I wish to add they both suffer from mental health issues."

The son said when he heard someone in the house had died he assumed his dad had died from an overdose, or he had killed Pauline.

He said: "While I accept she has done this, I do think the drug abuse would have played a part. I feel the death of one of them was inevitable."

The first is from Kevin Caster's mum. She said: "He was murdered by his wife, Pauline Caster. No mother should have to attend and identify the body of her son, that day will haunt me forever. He was my youngest child and my baby. When he was around 5 months old he was very poorly with a stomach bug and I felt he was going to die. He pulled through and I felt very connected to him."

She has told the court when he was 18, Kevin joined the Army at around the same time he met Pauline, who already had a young child. She said he took on the child as his own before they went on to have two children together.

Kevin's mum said: "I believe his dad's death had a huge impact on him, as if he was his anchor on life and when he was gone he had no stabiltiy and around this time I noticed drugs took a hold of him. I was so scared of seeing him and Pauline while they were under the effects of drugs. It was clear they loved each other but this love was toxic.

"It is sad they came to care more about drugs than they did their own children and family. I lost my son to drugs some years prior to his death and hoped he would turn his life around but this will never happen as she took him away from me. The day he died, a part of me died."

Mr Shafi said Caster was arrested again a year later and interviewed and answered "no comment" and was charged with murder.

CCTV footage was then recovered from Hazel Crescent and showed her "stamp and kick Kevin Caster and he seems to react with bodily movement on each of those occasions."

A video taken on a phone shows the couple arguing about Caster going out before the camera is turned on him. Mr Shafi said: "There was an element of each taking the other's prescription medicine."

Another recording taken in August 2021, where she described an argument the day before and refers to another female. "She is clearly unhappy as she believed he was speaking to her and when she was comatosed from drugs they had sex." In the recording she "asked him to be honest with her."

Mr Shafi said: "Dr Robinson carried out a post-mortem in October 2021 and numerous facial injuries were noted included bruising and abrasions, bruising to the nose and cheek, bruising and lacerations to the upper lip, further areas of bruising to the chest and abdomen."

The court heard the injuries were consistent with kicks and stamps. An internal examination found multiple rib fractures and bruising. The rib fractures, it was said, was consistent with an assault using a blunt force trauma rather than resuscitation.

The judge said: "It was a bad beating up, with kicks and punches."

It was said the injuries could have proved fatal in isolation, and the toxicity and injuries together could hasten his death. Cause of death was given as a combination of injuries and toxicity.

Mr Shafi said a number of drugs was found in Kevin Caster's system.

"Stripping away much f the medical detail it appears he had taken a cocktail of drugs which included a fatal dose of Lamotrigine, she then simultaneously or at some stage thereafter, beats him up, the view of the pathologist is that the two together killed him," the judge said.

"But even if she had not done what she had done, he would have died anyway. The assault could have killed him, but the Lamotrigine would have."

The judge said it seems to him Kevin took the epileptic drug, which caused an overdose. He said: "It would almost certainly had killed him at the levels he had and we would have succumbed, and what she did, in anger, or born of whatever the background is, seeing him on the ground, starts to beat him up and that adds to the situation in the way we all understand."

Mr Shafi said: "We don't know how it came about, when the [tablets] may have been taken, but frankly there are only two people who know the sequence of events."

The judge said it was set against a background of volatility and "as night follows day, he would have died in any event."

Kevin was taken to Rotherham Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Mr Shafi said Caster was not immediately arrested as she had "no visible injuries" and "there was white powder, tablets in the hallway and around the body of Kevin Caster" which was consistent with her account, the court has heard.

On October 21, she was arrested on suspicion of murder, due to Kevin's injuries.

The court has heard at around 10pm another neighbour returned home and heard Caster shouting "help, help my husband is dead." He said after each attack there was movement from Kevin, including at 8.17pm after the last attack. Mr Shafi said this was over an hour before the emergency services were called.

Mr Shafi said a cousin of Kevin attended and saw Kevin lying on the floor and "blood around his mouth and bruising and described him looking gaunt."

The prosecutor said: "He heard the defendant shouting 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry' and she said he had taken 'loads of pills."

It is said Caster told the man Kevin had beent ot he pub and been in a fight and then she said: "No, he's overdosed and took a load of his epilepsy tablets."

Paramedics arrived a short time later and Caster said he had taken tablets for epilepsy and started "fitting and foaming at the mouth."

Imran Shafi KC is now addressing the court. He says a witness around 8.30pm to 9pm heard Caster shouting: "Are you hurting you b******?" and heard a noise.

He said they described the defendant "stamping down" and came to the conclusion that was the deceased who was being stamped upon. CCTV footage confirmed the attack went on for 20 minutes.

Prosecuting is Imran Shafi KC & Stephen Grattage.

For the defence, Anthony Berry KC & Dermot Hughes.

We will be publishing updates here.

Pauline Caster will be sentenced by His Honour Judge Jeremy Richardson KC. Murder carries a life sentence. The judge will have to determine a minimum term Caster must serve behind bars before going before the Parole Board who will decide if she is safe to be released on licence.

During the third day of her trial at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, Caster pleaded guilty to murder.

Detective Inspector John Fitzgibbons, senior investigating officer at South Yorkshire Police, said: “Firstly I wish to take this opportunity to send my condolences to Kevin’s family and loved ones, as they continue to come to terms with their loss.

“The information we gathered during our enquiries sadly revealed a history of arguments between the two and on the night of his death, witnesses reported hearing Caster shouting at Kevin and a number of people reported seeing Caster making violent gestures, as though she was stamping on something, through the window.

“CCTV footage showed Caster violently stamping on Kevin while he lay on the floor. She then waited an hour and a half before calling for help. By which time nothing could be done to save Kevin.

“We also learned that Caster changed her account of how Kevin came to be injured to those who ran to her aid that evening after hearing her shouting in the street. To some, she said he’d been in a fight, others she told he’d taken pills and had had a seizure.

“This is a tragic case where not only do those who knew and loved Kevin have to face his loss, but Caster’s actions effectively mean they lose her too, as she now faces a significant custodial sentence."