A top TV location manager killed his wife with a single blow because she over-cooked his birthday dinner, a court has heard.
Jonathan Wicks, 48, allegedly punched or slapped wife Sarah, 49, once after she threw plates at him because he complained about the burned roast beef.
But the blow ruptured an artery in her neck and she died immediately at their £500,000 converted church home in Stourton, near Shipston, Warks.
Wicks – who has worked on BBC1′s Holby City, the hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous and Waking the Dead – claims he acted in self-defence and denies manslaughter.
Warwick Crown Court heard how Sarah died following a boozy Sunday lunch dinner party to celebrate Wicks’ birthday on May 3 last year.
James Burbidge QC, prosecuting, said: ”It is not clear how he did this or why, but that he did it can be in no doubt.
”The prosecution accept that when Mr Wicks killed his wife he did not intend to kill her, but we say he committed an unlawful act.
”The act was a punch or a slap, but we say it was unlawful and it was violent, and he had no lawful reason to do it.”
He told the jury the couple, who had no children, were happily married with no history of domestic violence.
But he said they had been having financial problems because Wicks, a freelance film locations manager, was struggling for work.
He had previously worked with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley on ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ as well as a string of crime dramas including ‘Trial and Retribution’, and ‘The Messiah’.
The couple hosted Sunday lunch for three families at their home – a converted church called ‘The Old Chapel’ – on May 3 last year in honour of Wicks turning 47 on April 25.
The guests drank six bottles of wine and champagne, but during dinner Wicks complained that his wife had over-cooked the roast beef.
He also moaned about a present Sarah had bought him and told her he was going to take it back to the shop.
After the last guest left at 8.30pm Wicks killed his wife before driving away from the house in a panic before returning 20 minutes later and dialling 999, the jury was told.
He told an ambulance operator his wife had fallen over but he was then heard to say: ”Come on. No, no, you can’t die, not over a f**king argument.”
Mr Burbidge told the court: ”It is likely he struck his wife moments after the last guest left because he said in the 999 call his wife had stopped breathing and was on the floor.”
When paramedics arrived Sarah was on her back on the kitchen floor surrounded with broken plates and Wicks was crouching next to her.
Wicks pleaded with them to do something to help her, and said: ”What have I done? I’ve killed her. I hit her.
”She was throwing plates at me and I hit her. Oh my God, what have I done? It should be me lying there. Just hit me with a blunt object.”
Mr Burbidge added: ”He said they had had an argument and she had thrown plates at him, hitting his arm, and he had hit her, indicating an open slap.”
He told paramedics he had ”not meant to hit her that hard,” and that she had fallen and hit her head on a worktop, adding: ”God, what am I going to do without her?”
Sarah was rushed to Horton Hospital in Banbury, Oxon, but was pronounced dead.
Wicks was arrested on suspicion of murder and told cops: ”I’ve just killed my wife. How do you think I feel?
”I hit her over the side of the head because she threw a plate at me.”
Mr Burbidge said: ”The prosecution say that sounds as if he was retaliating.
”His case is ‘my wife was throwing plates at me and I struck her, in effect defending myself’.
”Even if she was throwing or had thrown crockery at him, we say he did not need to do that.
”We do not suggest he intended to kill her or cause her serious harm, but he did intend to strike her.”
Pathologist Dr Simon Wills told the jury Sarah would have died ”immediately”.
He said: ”She died as a result of blunt force trauma of at least moderate force” to the left upper side of her neck, causing a tear to the inter-cranial artery leading to bleeding over the base of the brain.”
The trial continues.