A WOMAN convicted of the murder of her “gentle giant” husband is maintaining her innocence from behind bars.
Christina Button, now 40, is serving a life sentence for the murder of her husband George in March 2003.
Mr Button, 53, who worked for Sunderland City Council as an electrician, was bludgeoned to death as he walked his dog Laddie near the couple’s home in West Rainton.
Christina Button’s case has now been taken up by campaign group Innocence Network UK.
Also convicted of the murder was Button’s nephew Simon Tannahill, now 29, who administered the fatal blows.
Dr Michael Naughton, director of the Innocence Network, said: “The prosecution alleged Christina Button persuaded Tannahill to kill her husband. There was eyewitness identification and DNA evidence linking Tannahill to the crime, but the evidence against Christina Button was highly circumstantial, consisting mostly of her large amount of debt to support the alleged financial motive.”
A jury at Newcastle Crown Court was told at the couple’s joint trial in December 2003 that Christina Button was guilty of murder because she “planned and orchestrated” the killing, even though she struck no blows.
Police gathered evidence which proved Christina Button was in the village at the time of the killing, allegedly to be certain Tannahill went through with it.
She took her daughter to a Brownie meeting, which was something she didn’t usually do, in an apparent attempt to establish an alibi.
Tannahill has since admitted his part in the murder, which means he will be eligible for parole in 2016 when he has served his 13-year tariff.
Christina Button failed in an attempt to have her 14-year tariff reduced, and in 2005 she failed in an attempt to have her conviction overturned.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission looked into her case in 2008, but refused to refer it to the Court of Appeal a second time.
Trial judge Mr Justice Royce said: “George Button was by all accounts a kind and gentle man who had done nothing to deserve his terrible fate.
“This was a wicked and evil murder which was orchestrated by Christina Button.”