Self-proclaimed horse whisperer sentenced to life in prison

Christine Rawle. Image from Devon and Cornwall Police

Self-proclaimed horse whisperer Christine Rawle, 69, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 17 years after she stabbed her 72-year-old husband, Ian Rawle, in the back at their £800k home in Braunton, Devon, in 2022. 

It was heard that, on August 21st 2022, Mr Rawle had been cleaning out their horses at home when, during a heated argument. Christine then went on to stab him in the back with a knife, causing a 10cm wound and a punctured lung. The couple had been arguing over selling a section of land on their smallholding in Devon. Christine pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder and claimed she had been acting in self-defence after suffering years of domestic abuse and violence at the hands of her husband. She told police:

“He would have eventually killed me…I took his life because he was unbearable”. 

In spite of her plea, a jury found a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder on Friday, 22 March 2024.  

Exeter Crown Court heard how, after he was stabbed, Mr Rawle followed his wife for approximately 100 yards, pleading with her to remove the knife, before he collapsed and died from the wound. Medical reports indicate that Mr Rawle suffered a punctured lung and cardiac arrest.


When passing sentence, Judge James Adkin told Christine that she had violently thrust the knife into her husband’s back, intending to kill him. Prosecutors stated that this was “as clear a case of murder as you are likely to find”, further stating that she had attacked her husband in a “fit of temper” at their home.

Christine’s defence team countered the statement by stating that she had acted in self-defence, fearful that Mr Rawle intended to kill her after subjecting her to years of physical and psychological abuse. The Court also heard allegations of how Rawle had previously stabbed her husband twice, once with a fork and another time with a knife.  

Christine’s defence told the Court that she had phoned police several times throughout their 27-year marriage and stated that the case was “anything but simple”. The Judge told Christine that she had told the Police she was frightened of her husband. However, he went on to say that this was a 72-year-old man with a knife in his back who had pleaded for help, which she had refused to give. The judge acknowledged that “Ian was not perfect” and that the evidence portrayed him as obstinate, stuck in his ways, and old-fashioned in his views of marriage. However, he went on that her husband was “in no way the serial domestic abuser” that his wife had tried to portray him as, adding, “The main reason you killed your husband was that you have an ungovernable temper”.   

At the time of the incident, Rawle was on the phone to her daughter, screaming, “I’m going to be in trouble. I’ve stabbed him. I’m going to prison for the rest of my life”. Her daughter then called emergency services.  

Detective Inspector Ilona Rosson said: “We welcome the verdict reached by members of the jury who have heard the evidence presented in the trial and deliberated carefully before making their decision. 

“I would like to thank and commend all those who have been involved in what has been a complex investigation, including those who provided their expertise, evidence and the prosecution team. 

“The family and friends of Ian have had to endure a tragic loss, and I hope the outcome reached and the sentence given will bring some closure to them. 

“My thoughts, and those of the entire investigation team, are with them at this time.”   

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