Town man cleared of partner’s murder

A HARTLEPOOL man who stabbed his ex-partner to death with a 12 inch kitchen knife has been sensationally cleared of her murder.

Graham Gibson, 47, repeatedly stabbed Christine Henderson, 50, in the head, neck and chest a week after she ended their 18-month relationship.

Graham Gibson

Graham Gibson

She was left to die in her friend’s home while Gibson callously rifled through her handbag for cash and waited 45 minutes before dialling 999.

In that time he was seen by two witnesses which was captured on CCTV – “acting normal and joking as if nothing had happened”.

In the chilling phone call to police told the operator: “I’ve stabbed my girlfriend and she’s dead.”

Gibson claimed he “ lost control “ after being provoked with taunts about a previous partner, and the jury accepted his account.

Gibson, of Kent Avenue, Hartlepool, was convicted of manslaughter and will be sentenced once reports have been prepared by probation officials.

Mrs Henderson’s family and friends left the public gallery in tears when the verdict was announced.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Gibson: “I am not satisfied I have all the necessary material I need before I pass sentence on you.

“Particularly, I need to know whether you are going to pose a danger to any other partners you come across.”

During the three-week trial, the jury heard how mother-of-three Mrs Henderson left Gibson when he became controlling and violent towards her.

The court heard how he also repeatedly stole money from her to fund his gambling addiction – betting on horses and playing roulette machines.

Mrs Henderson left him in late-June and went to stay with her friend on the Brambles Farm estate in Middlesbrough.

Gibson – branded “ever more desperate” to win her back by police – spent the next week bombarding her with phone calls and text messages.

Mrs Henderson finally agreed to see him at her friend’s home on July 1 – but was brutally stabbed within minutes of Gibson turning up.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for more than six hours over two days before reaching the unanimous verdict this afternoon.

The court heard that after the killing, Gibson cleaned himself, changed his clothes and dumped his mobile phone in a drain.

He was arrested 13 hours later near the main police station in Middlesbrough and claimed he was on his way to hand himself in.