Pianist “strangled by jealous husband”


Pianist Natalia Strelchenko “strangled by jealous husband”

Image caption
Ms Strelchenko, also known as Natalia Strell, performed at concerts worldwide

A concert pianist was strangled by her husband because of his jealousy over her successful career, a court heard.

Natalia Strelchenko, 38, was found with fatal head injuries at their Manchester home on the couple”s second wedding anniversary last August.

Her musician husband John Martin, originally from Norway, is on trial for her murder, which he denies.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court heard the jealousy was made worse because his career had not taken off.

Russian-born Ms Strelchenko, also known as Natalia Strelle, moved to Manchester in 2009 after the breakdown of her first marriage three years earlier.

Media captionNatalia Strelchenko performed with the Alderley Edge Orchestra in May

She made her debut at the age of 12 with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, and performed at New York”s Carnegie Hall and London”s Wigmore Hall.

Her relationship with Mr Martin, also known as Jon Skogsbakken, was “marked with tensions”, prosecuting counsel Rob Hall said.

“He was very jealous if she was out without him… They would also argue regularly about such matters as financial affairs and who should keep the house clean,” Mr Hall explained.

“Drives me crazy”

Mr Martin, 48, would physically restrain her sometimes from leaving their home and police had been called over previous arguments between the pair, Mr Hall said.

In 2013, police were called to their Newton Heath home when Mr Martin tried to force his way through the front door after a row on the phone, the court heard.

In early August last year, he threw Ms Strelchenko out of the house because he was not prepared to pay her mobile phone bill any longer.

He then texted her music publicist, saying: “She drives me crazy and must be stopped when it happens.”

Ms Strelchenko temporarily moved back in three days before her death on 30 August – ahead of a new post in France the following month.

Mr Martin was said to be “very upset” on the day before his wife”s death, when he found she had advertised the address on a property exchange website, the court heard.

“No memory”

Ms Strelchenko died following another argument after her friends came over.

A Polish violinist friend of Ms Strelchenko, who was staying over, said she saw Mr Martin throw Ms Strelchencko and himself down the stairs before he strangled her.

The friend ran to a neighbour”s house and raised the alarm, the court heard.

When police arrested Mr Martin, he repeatedly shouted: “Kill me.”

The court heard Ms Strelchencko was so badly beaten that part of her face was severed.

Mr Martin later told police that he had no memory of the attack.

At an earlier hearing, he pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder, also on 30 August, of a male youth who cannot be named.

The trial continues.