DEATH BY REMOTE CONTROL

An electrical engineer who killed his wife when he threw a TV remote control at her head was jailed for three years.

Paul Harvey, 46, hurled the 114g gadget at former US diplomat Gloria Laguna, 48, during a row at their home.

Ms Laguna tragically suffered from a defect to the vertebral artery at the back of her head and collapsed almost immediately.

She was taken to hospital with only a minor bruise to her neck but was pronounced dead the next morning.

Ms Laguna was unaware of her congenital condition and could have died from a ‘trivial’ blow at any time.

Harvey’s barrister Jonathan Goldberg QC said her death was comparable to the chances of winning the lottery.

He added: ‘By fluke chance it landed at the exact spot where she had this congenital weakness.’

The Old Bailey heard the couple had a petty argument about his ex-wife’s stepdaughter while watching TV at their flat in Polygon Road, Euston, northwest London.

At 11.15pm on March 22 this year he dialled 999 and told the operator: ‘I threw the TV digital at her and hit her on the head.’

He later explained that his wife started screaming, talking ‘gibberish’ and then collapsed on the sofa.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam said: ‘It is clear to anyone the distress he was suffering at the time.

‘He was crying and he remained in considerable distress, including pleading with her to recover.’

When paramedics arrived, he said: ‘What have I done?’ and ‘I think I have killed my wife. I threw a remote control at my wife’s head.’

Ms Laguna was taken to University College Hospital where is was discovered she had suffered a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage.

‘It was assessed she was liable to deteriorate further and neurological intervention was not advised. She was pronounced dead at 6.50am,’ said Mr Whittam.

Harvey was charged with murder but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

‘The basis of the plea is that Paul Harvey accepts by his unlawful act he caused the bruising to Gloria Laguna’s neck.

‘Sadly she suffered from a particular weakness and that battery by throwing the remote control caused her death.

‘It would have only required a trivial incident to have caused her death.’

Ms Laguna had worked at the US consulate in India but gave up her job and moved to the UK after marrying Harvey in 2007.

Harvey, who was born in Glasgow and brought up in South Africa, worked as an electrical engineering specialist.

His jobs have included assessing a Goldman Sachs building in India and at the Excell centre in Docklands.

He has previous convictions for violence dating back to 1987 when he was given a suspended sentence of imprisonment for headbutting a police officer in the face.

In November 1994 he was fined £100 for smashing a pane of glass after missing his train at Radlett station.

He was jailed for six months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in April 2002 after punching a man in the face at a party.

The court heard both Harvey and Ms Laguna had taken cocaine on the night of the incident.

Mr Goldberg said: ‘He is a rugby-playing, beer drinking Alpha plus type of male and works in the building injury.

‘He is deeply ashamed and remorseful for the loss of his wife because she was a fine woman.

‘It is sad to find two people both educated, both respectable persons in society, indulging in cocaine.

‘If this case serves any use it may publicise the fact that these drugs are dangerous.’

Mr Goldberg said the argument centred on Harvey’s continuing payment of maintenance to his step-daughter from his first marriage.

‘All he did was to throw the TV control in her general direction. He was throwing it at her in a moment of pique and anger.’

Sentencing, Judge Giles Forrester told Harvey: ‘You killed your wife who has rightly been described as a fine woman.

‘You killed her during an argument at home when you threw a TV remote control at her and it struck her below and behind the left ear.

‘She had an unusual and particular weakness in the vertebral arteries which were dissected by the blow as a result of which she died of bleeding around the brain.

‘To throw a hard object such as a remote control device so as to strike your wife in this way was irresponsible and it was dangerous.

‘The combined effect of drink and drugs is likely to have increased the anger you felt towards your wife.

‘Your previous record does you no credit. There is undoubtedly a streak of violence and anger in your personality. There is no doubt you have a problem with your temper.

‘Your crime coupled with the tragic circumstances have to be marked by an immediate custodial sentence. Of course no sentence can restore Gloria Laguna to life.’

Harvey, of (flat 35) Hill Wood House, (1) Polygon Road, Euston, had tears in his eyes throughout the hearing.

In a statement read to the court, Gloria’s sister Christina Hackett said: ‘The defendant’s actions have resulted in so many ways to hurt us.

‘Gloria was a splendid thing, a soul straight bright and described by everyone who met her as bubbly. Gloria was not ready to die.’

ENDS

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