Man accused of murdering pianist wife 'made her have abortion'


A "jealous, controlling" musician persuaded a pianist to have an abortion against her wishes years before he strangled and beat her to death, a jury has heard.

The victim's sister told Manchester Crown Court that John Martin was "not excited" about having a child when Natalia Strelchenko became pregnant before they later married.

She added she was not happy when Ms Strelchenko, also known by the surname Strelle, embarked on a relationship with the defendant because he was still married himself with two children.

Norwegian double bass player Martin, 48, is said to have murdered his 38-year-old Russian-born wife in anger at their home in Manchester last August on their second wedding anniversary.

The Crown says the defendant was consumed with jealousy when she was apart from him and his envy was made worse because her career had taken off while his had not.

Ms Strelchenko had played the piano from the age of eight and went on to gain entry to the prestigious St Petersburg State Conservatory in her home city.

She moved to Manchester in 2009 following the breakdown of her first marriage three years earlier, before she met the defendant a year later in 2010.

Giving evidence, Ms Strelchenko's sister Julia said her sibling had wanted to live in England and be a part of the country's long-standing, "extremely exciting" traditional classical music circles.

She described the couple as having a "very bumpy" relationship and said her sister became pregnant before they eventually married.

She told the court: "I think she told him. To my knowledge he was not excited with the idea."

Asked by prosecutor Rob Hall who decided to go ahead with an abortion, she replied: "That was absolutely not her wish. As I know this, he left her because she got pregnant.

"He absolutely did not want to have this kid and they resumed the relationship after she did the abortion."

Martin denies the murder, or the manslaughter, of his wife.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of a male youth who cannot be identified for legal reasons.