A man has stabbed his new wife to death because he felt “belittled” when she refused to put his name on the deeds to their new home.
Gambling addict David Pawluk, 59, met Margaret Howlett, 63, through her job as manager of a bookmakers, where Pawluk was a regular customer. After a whirlwind romance, they got married in Cyprus in summer last year. But, shortly after they were married, they began to argue over his “significant” gambling problem and mounting debts.
Things came to a head when they decided to sell her home and move to a new house together.
When she refused to put his name on the deeds of the new property, he attacked her and left her to die in the kitchen of their home in Rochdale, Manchester. Pawluk tried several times to kill himself afterwards, before walking into a police station two after days the killing and confessed.
Pawluk has now been jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years and eight months, after pleading guilty to murder.
When Pawluk and Mrs Howlett first met, she was in a relationship with another man. But Pawluk set out to wreck the relationship. When Mrs Howlett’s relationship ended, she and Pawluk became engaged during Christmas 2016 and got married in 2017.
Minshull Street Crown Court heard that Pawluk had cashed and spent his £40,000 pension on gambling or settling debts, and that he was £2,000 overdrawn with £20,000 credit card debts.
Mrs Howlett had decided to sell her home and move elsewhere. But after becoming aware of her husband’s gambling problems, she changed her mind, the court heard.
Pawluk talked her round, compromising and saying they could still move but that only her name would be put on the title deeds. He was said to be angered by this, saying it made him feel “worthless” and like a “lodger”.
In March, Mrs Howlett had confided in a friend and said she no longer loved Pawluk, and revealed that of the £24,000 she had in savings when she met him, she now only had £4,000 left. Pawluk had also texted a friend saying he needed a divorce.
On the night of her death, Mrs Howlett had enjoyed a day out in Manchester with a friend of 50 years, going to the hairdressers, enjoying a meal and doing some shopping.
Meanwhile, Pawluk went out drinking in Rochdale with a friend. He returned home first just after 10pm, describing himself as “drunk” having consumed eight pints. Ms Howlett returned shortly after in a taxi, described as “merry” but not drunk.
The court heard that even before she was able to take her coat off, an argument broke out, thought to be about the gambling or the mortgage.
Prosecutors said Mrs Howlett told him: “What’s wrong with you? This is not you, you are beginning to frighten me.”
Pawluk grabbed her, forced her to the ground with his knee on her back, then stabbed her two or three times in the neck. Neighbours later said they heard screaming, banging doors and Pawluk saying “you’re a f***** liar”.
Pawluk didn’t ring 999 for help that night. Then in the morning on Monday, April 12, Pawluk walked into a police station in Rochdale and told officers at the counter that he had murdered his wife.