Birkenhead man jailed for over 15 years for the murder of his wife

An earlier version of this article was incorrectly headlined. The man was sentenced to over 15 years, not over 25 years as previously stated.

A Wirral man has today, Friday 28 October, been jailed for 15 years and 10 months for the murder of his wife.

Police were called to a flat in Vittoria Court, on Vittoria Close, Birkenhead, at around 7.15pm on Thursday 12 May this year to a report of concern for the welfare of 62-year-old Karen Wheeler.

Paramedics attended but Mrs Wheeler was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was given as blunt force trauma.

Mark Wheeler, 52, of Vittoria Close was charged with her murder and pleaded guilty at a court hearing earlier this year.

Today, at Liverpool Crown Court, he was sentenced to 15 years and 10 months.

Detective Inspector Phil Ryan said, “This was a truly shocking and brutal assault which led to the tragic death of Karen Wheeler in her own home.

“Tragically it was her son David who found his mother dead and locked Wheeler in the house until police arrived. Nobody can begin to understand the impact the circumstances and fact of her sudden death has had on her family and friends.

“Nothing can bring Karen back but I hope that the significant sentence Mark Wheeler must now serve will give them a sense of justice and allow them to finally move on with their lives.

“Merseyside Police continues to do everything it can to tackle all violence against women and girls and we will do everything in our power to support victims, target perpetrators and reduce violence by ensuring victims of domestic abuse feel believed and supported when they report offending to us.

“Domestic abuse is a complex issue and can take many forms. It can be psychological, financial, sexual, emotional and physical and we want to raise awareness of the support that is available to anyone who is or has experienced domestic abuse or has been affected by it so that nobody else has to suffer or silence or go through what they have been through.

“We work closely with local domestic support organisations, local authorities, safeguarding teams and charities to ensure that services and ongoing support are available, including access to refuges.

“We have a number of specialist departments within the police to investigate these crimes but it’s important that we all work together to support survivors and collectively work to prevent these crimes occurring in the first place by raising awareness.”

There are a number of ways to report:

Call: If you are in immediate danger, always call 999. If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to us then cough, or tap, the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance and we will provide support.

Online: You can report online domestic abuse to police online at Report domestic abuse | Merseyside Police and someone will get back to you, via your specified method, within 24 hours.

All reports are treated seriously, they will be investigated sensitively and police will work with their partners to offer support and keep victims safe. Officers understand that every domestic incident is unique and they will do everything they can to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, so the victims of this terrible and under-reported crime are protected and their needs are put first.

Merseyside Police would also appeal to families and friends to keep an eye out for signs that someone may be a victim of domestic abuse. Sometimes victims are unable to contact the police, which is why it’s so important the people around them who suspect something is going on can do it on their behalf.

If you have any non-urgent information on domestic abuse – if you are a victim or believe someone you know is a victim – you can contact direct message @MerPolCC on Twitter, ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’ on Facebook or contact @CrimestoppersUK, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Further support can also be found at these national agencies:

Women’s Aid | womensaid.org.uk | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

Refuge (includes information for men) | refuge.org.uk | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

Image: Mark Wheeler

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