Husband may have beaten wife to death with skateboard while police waited outside, court told

Olubunmi Abodunde pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife, Taiwo, at the start of his trial
Olubunmi Abodunde pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife, Taiwo, at the start of his trial

A husband may have beaten his wife to death with a skateboard while police waited outside for the go-ahead from senior officers to force their way in, a court heard.

Olubunmi Abodunde, 48, had repeatedly been investigated by police for subjecting his wife, Taiwo, 41, to domestic violence in the months before he murdered her.

He was arrested when police were called to the couple’s home on Nov 27 2023 and found Mrs Abodunde, a healthcare assistant, with an injury to her lip.

Ipswich Crown Court was told how Abodunde was freed on police bail from Bury St Edmunds police station with a condition that he stayed away from his home in Exning Road, in Newmarket, Suffolk.

But the following day, after working a night shift at Tesco, he went back to his home to allegedly pick up his mobile phone just after 9am.

Two police officers arrived at 9.20am for a scheduled follow-up visit with Mrs Abodunde about the previous day’s domestic incident.

While they were waiting outside, they heard banging sounds, but waited until 9.55am before forcing their way inside when senior officers gave them permission to do so.

The officers found Mrs Abodunde dead near the front door after she had been beaten around the head with her son’s skateboard. She had also been strangled and stamped on.

Simon Spence KC, for the prosecution, said that the sound of banging in the house was likely to have been Abodunde continuing to attack his wife while she was unconscious or dead.

Police outside the home of Olubunmi Abodunde in Newmarket, Suffolk, after the he had murdered his wife, Taiwo
Police outside the home of Olubunmi Abodunde in Newmarket, Suffolk, after the he had murdered his wife, Taiwo - East Anglia News Service

The Nigerian national had denied murder, but changed his plea to guilty at the start of his trial, and was remanded in custody before being sentenced on May 9.

Suffolk Constabulary referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after the murder due to previous contact with the couple.

The IOPC has revealed that it is investigating two officers for alleged gross misconduct and a third for misconduct.

The court was told how Mrs Abodunde had suffered “catastrophic injuries”. A pathologist told the court that the injuries to her neck suggested she had been strangled and stamped on, and she had broken ribs.

The blows to her head were apparently so hard that the skateboard was damaged in the attack, the court was told.

Mr Spence added that previous reports of domestic violence at the couple’s home were “not of the most significant kind”.

Asked by Judge Martyn Levett for his plea, Abodunde, who moved to the UK with his wife and their three children in 2022, said: “I am guilty, sir.”

History of jealousy

The court was told that Abodunde had a history of jealousy throughout their marriage and had accused his wife of having affairs. The couple had also argued about bills.

Mrs Abodunde got a job at a care home in Cambridge but her husband, who had trained as a civil engineer, worked at Tesco and Wickes as he was unable to find work in his profession.

She had gone to work on the night of Nov 27 and returned home the next morning to find her husband in the house, the court was told.

Abodunde was arrested at the scene and taken to hospital “because he appeared to have some sort of mental episode”, said Mr Spence.

He claimed in a police statement: “My wife has subjected me to physical abuse for a number of years.

“On Nov 28 we got into an argument, she ran at me with a knife, I grabbed the knife and cut my hand. I was defending myself.”

But the court heard that although there was a cut on his hand, police found no knife in the vicinity of his wife’s body.

Nneka Akudolu KC, for the defence, said Abodunde’s behaviour was “highly unusual”.

She added: “This level of violence was completely out of character for him and the only reasonable explanation to him is the medication he was taking impacted his behaviour.”

But Ms Akudolu said that no medical evidence would be provided to support this.

Judge Levett warned Abodunde that the only possible sentence was one of life imprisonment.

Det Insp Dan Connick, of Suffolk Constabulary, said after the hearing: “This was an awful attack on a woman that has had a lasting impact on the community and, most importantly, on the victim’s family.

“We are pleased that Taiwo’s family will no longer have to go through the pain of a trial.

“Our thoughts remain with Taiwo’s family and friends and hope this result will bring some small comfort to them.”

A spokesman for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said: “We have established that officers came into contact with Taiwo Abodunde on Nov 27 before she was tragically found dead at her address the next day by officers.

“In April 2024, we advised two Suffolk officers that they are under investigation for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct.

“We advised another officer that they are under investigation at the level of misconduct. This does not mean disciplinary proceedings will necessarily follow.

“Our investigation remains ongoing,” the spokesman added.