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‘Bully’ who murdered new bride and hid her body in suitcase jailed for life

Thomas Nutt who murdered his bride Dawn Walker just hours after they wed (West Yorkshire Police/PA)
Thomas Nutt who murdered his bride Dawn Walker just hours after they wed (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

A “bully” who murdered his bride on their wedding night and stuffed her body into a suitcase has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years.

Powerfully-built Thomas Nutt, 46, punched and then strangled 5ft grandmother Dawn Walker. He hid her in a cupboard at their home, and later dumped her in a field.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Nutt broke her leg so he could fit her corpse into the suitcase, which he later tossed over a fence before hiding it in bushes, where her remains were found four days after they married.

Thomas Nutt court case
A family photo ofDawn Walker, a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother, who was murdered by her new husband (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

Nutt lied to her family, blaming her disappearance on her mental health, sent them false texts supposedly from her, and convinced her youngest daughter to help try to find her, all the while knowing she was dead.

He had controlled his 52-year-old victim for years and isolated her from members of family, her sister told the court.

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Rose told him: “Dawn Walker died because you are a bully, used to getting your own way with women, used to controlling and manipulating women and used to using your considerable size advantage to inflict violence on women if you considered it necessary to do so.”

Nutt killed the mother-of-three hours after their wedding when they returned to their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, West Yorkshire on the night of October 27.

He told police they had gone on honeymoon to Skegness the next day, but the judge said there was no evidence to support that claim, and the judge was sure Ms Walker was already dead.

The killer “desecrated” her body by breaking bones to make her fit in the suitcase, Judge Rose said.

The victim’s daughter Kiera-Lee Guest told the court Nutt put up Halloween decorations in the house even while Ms Walker was lying dead.

Ms Guest said Nutt knew what he had done when she went from place to place with a photo of her mother, asking if people had seen her.

She said: “Justice will be served for my beautiful mother.”

Ms Walker’s sister Lisa said Nutt manipulated his victim and isolated her from family for three years “before his ungodly hands took her away from us forever”.

Lisa Walker told the court: “I mourn for my sister who suffered so much and felt like she had nobody to turn to because this man made her feel worthless.”

Alistair MacDonald QC, prosecuting, said the crime was aggravated by the way Nutt deceived her family after the murder, causing them “psychological damage”, he said.

Stephen Wood QC, defending, said there was no evidence that Nutt intended to kill his wife and that it had been “spontaneous”.

Nutt had admitted manslaughter but was convicted of murder.

After the judge imposed a life sentence with a 21-year minimum term, a woman in the public gallery called out: “Thank you Your Honour, thank you.”