UK wife-killer lived in St Martin’s for 12 years
Saturday 3rd April 2004, 12:00AM BST.
A FORMER Guernsey resident was jailed for four years yesterday for killing his wife. Alan Wickenden, 67, admitted the manslaughter of Janet, 69, when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.
The couple lived in the island for about 12 years but moved back to the UK in 1991 and settled in the Devon village of Down St Mary.
During their time in Guernsey they lived at Rue Cauchez, St Martin’s. Their youngest son, Jason, now 29, was a pupil at Les Beaucamps School.
Those who knew the Wickendens were stunned to hear the news.
Jenny Neild, 59, a former deputy head teacher at the school, knew the couple for six years.
She had not seen or heard from them for at least 15 years when she learned of Mrs Wickenden’s violent death.
‘I couldn’t believe it, they were such a lovely, devoted couple,’ she said.
‘She was absolutely lovely, a devoted mother and wife. He was a really affable bloke. They were friendly, hospitable and generous.
‘On my first Liberation Day in Guernsey she took me and my daughter for lunch. She was a very kind and private person.’
The court heard that Wickenden meticulously planned the crime and compiled handwritten notes on how he would kill his pensioner wife.
He deliberately let air out of a tyre of their car while they were on a shopping trip and told her it would be a good idea if she learned how to change it.
When she became angry he launched a savage attack, battering her head at least 12 times with a metal pole designed to adjust a wheel brace.
Mrs Wickenden sustained horrific injuries and lost a lot of blood.
Her husband, on seeing what he had done, became confused and was easily detained by witnesses until the police arrived.
When he was taken into custody, Wickenden told police: ‘I can save you a lot of time and I don’t see what a solicitor can do, because I did it. I killed my wife.’
Officers described him as ‘a very pleasant, elderly gentleman’. Wickenden had no previous convictions.
He was one of three brothers who inherited the Townsend Thoresen Ferry company, which they sold just before the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster off Zeebrugge in 1987.
While living in the West Country he managed a holiday camp for his brother in North Devon.
He gave that up about 20 years ago and moved to France and then Majorca, where he set up a pleasure boat business for holidaymakers.
The family had lived in luxury for years but that changed in the late 1980s when one of his business ventures collapsed.
In recent years he had suffered financial difficulties and wanted to sell the family home, to which his wife was opposed.
In the months leading to the killing he became convinced that selling the £500,000 property was the only solution.
He had thought of killing himself but, in the end, turned on his wife of 46 years.