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Death by Remote Control

A man has been jailed for three years after killing his wife by throwing a TV remote control at her.

In a freak accident, the 114g device struck a weak spot on her head, causing bleeding on the brain.

Doctors later found that Gloria Laguna, a former US diplomat, had no idea she had a congenital weakness around her vertebral artery.

A jury at the Old Bailey heard that the 48-year-old was struck behind the ear, causing a haemorrhage.

Only two years earlier she had given up her career to marry husband Paul Harvey and move to Britain.

In sentencing, Judge Giles Forrester said Harvey, who has two previous convictions for violence — including breaking a policeman’s nose — and criminal damage, had a problem with his temper. This was exacerbated by the fact that both he and his wife had been drinking and taking cocaine on the night she died.

He said: “In any view you were taking a significant risk of injuring her, although — as the medical evidence makes clear — the risk was greater than anybody could have anticipated. This has been described as an egg shell skull case’.”

Mr Harvey, 46, rang 999 in tears and tried deparately to save his wife but she died later in hospital.

Harvey, an international electrical installation inspector of Warren Street, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The court heard that a trivial row had blown up over Mr Harvey continuing to pay maintenance and education fees for his stepdaughter from his previous marriage, even though she was not a blood relative.

Jonathon Goldberg QC, defending, said: “All he did was throw the TV control in her general direction. He was not aiming at her neck or head but threw it in a moment of pique and anger. He is ashmaed and remorseful at the loss of his wife.

“She was a fine and well-connected woman, a member of the US diplomatic service who gave up that position to move to the UK and was looking for a position of equal status.

“But unfortunately she had a quite unique medical condition which was unknown to anybody, least of all herself, and the slightest trauma in that area of the vertebral artery could, and did, lead to death.”

The court heard that the TV remote control weighed just 114g (approximately four ounces). The couple had met in India where Ms Laguna was working for the US consulate and Mr Harvey was working on the Goldman Sachs building.

He was brought up in South Africa and was described in court as a “rugby-playing, beer drinking, alpha plus kind of male and very successful in the building industry.”

Source: Phantoms and Monsters

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