‘I was caught up in love triangle – then one of my lovers murdered the other’

When Natalie Strickland was sleeping with two men, as well as her husband, she says each of them gave her something different.

"One was passion and physical attraction, one was friendship and fun, one stability and familiarity", she said.

But the affairs ended in heartbreak when one of her lovers murdered the other in a chilling revenge attack.

Natalie was having secret affairs with both Alan Maidment, 40, and Tom Jones, 47 – at the same time as she was sleeping with her husband.

But after Jones attacked Natalie, Maidment murdered him in revenge, stabbing him repeatedly before setting his body on fire.

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Maidment was jailed for life without parole in October 2017.

And an independent review, published this week, has found that lessons from the case could still be learned.

Natalie, 41, from Salford, says: “I actually introduced the two men to each other and I feel so guilty.

“I never set out to sleep with them all at the same time; it was just circumstance. They all lived so close and it was amazing that I got away with it.

“Each lover brought me something different; one was passion and physical attraction, one was friendship and fun, one stability and familiarity.

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“I was arrested on suspicion of murder after Tom’s death and in court, Alan even tried to blame me himself.

“I didn’t know about the review but it has brought all the trauma back to me.

“I am very lucky in that my husband has supported me and I’m back living in the family home. I hope we can work this out.

“But the flat where Tom died is across the road and so I see it, every time I leave the house. It’s a constant reminder. I’ve had a backlash from the community too, some people somehow blame me. It’s been a struggle to cope, and this review brings it all back.”

Natalie was on a temporary split from her husband, Paul, when she met Alan Maidment in July 2016.

Natalie says: “Paul and I had been together for eighteen years, mostly happy. But I was drinking too much and we went through a rocky patch. We decided on a break and I met Alan, firstly just as a friend, but then we got closer.”

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At the start of 2017, Natalie believed she needed a fresh start and moved into her own place, around the corner from her husband.

Alan moved away and she began seeing a neighbour, Tom Jones.

She says: “We were just friends at first. My relationship with Alan petered out because I hardly saw him. He lived around 40 minutes away.

“One night, after a few drinks, I ended up in bed with Tom and from then on, we started sleeping together. We weren’t in a serious relationship; more friends with benefits. We shared a flat and we shared a bed.

“I knew it wasn’t the best situation but I certainly didn’t think it would lead to his death.”

Alan then decided to move closer to Natalie – and got a flat just a few streets away.

Natalie says: “Alan didn’t know I had been sleeping with Tom. He moved in near me and our relationship resumed. I didn’t know how to tell him about Tom so I just kept quiet.

“I was sleeping with both men.”

Natalie also slept with her husband during that time, in an attempt to rescue her marriage.

She says: “I was very confused; I didn’t know what I wanted. I had three men, all living within a few streets of each other, who all wanted to be with me.

“One brought me passion, one gave me friendship, the other stability. I felt like I got something special from each of them.

“Alan was passionate and dangerous; he was a brilliant lover. Tom was friendly and fun, he made me laugh and we got on so well. My husband was familiar and we had such a lot of history together.

“I suppose it was flattering but more than anything, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I was worried about hurting their feelings.

“But I couldn’t even nip to the shop without bumping into one of them. I had to be very careful.”

That Christmas, Natalie decided to end the relationship with Alan, but agreed that they would remain friends. She also agreed with her husband that they would separate formally and their relationship ended.

She says: “I had decided to choose Tom. I hoped the others would understand.”

But in March 2017, Natalie and Tom had a huge row. He allegedly beat her up and was arrested.

Natalie says: “It was a huge shock. Tom had never hurt me before. He was arrested and I went to hospital. For me, it was over.

“Afterwards, I went to stay with a female friend.”

The following morning, Natalie was arrested on suspicion of murdering Tom, 47.

She says: “I was shell-shocked. I’d had no idea that Tom was even dead. To learn he had been murdered was heart-breaking.”

Officers at first thought that Natalie had murdered Tom herself, in revenge for the attack on her. But she was released without charge after questioning.

The following day, Alan Maidment was charged with Tom’s murder.

Natalie says: “I was stunned. As far as I’d known there was no problem between Alan and Tom – their only connection was me. I couldn’t help feeling guilty – responsible for Tom’s death.

“Alan had murdered Tom on my behalf – as revenge. It was sickening.

“Tom deserved punishment for hitting me, but he did not deserve such a brutal death.”

Alan Maidment appeared before Manchester crown Court in October 2017.

The court was told that Mr Jones was stabbed 32 times before his body was set on fire.

The court heard Maidment acted in ‘revenge’ after hearing of what had apparently happened to Natalie, who it was said he still occasionally had sex with despite splitting up earlier in the year.

The court was told that Mr Jones was arrested by police in connection with the alleged assault, but was released after Natalie stated she did not wish to press charges.

Mr Jones had accused Natalie, who he had an on-off sexual relationship with while living in separate rooms of his flat, of sleeping with other men.

Maidment initially confessed to police, saying he had committed the murder in revenge after hearing that Mr Jones had assaulted Natalie.

He then claimed that former girlfriend Natalie, and a friend Stewart Hutchinson, in fact conspired to kill Mr Jones.

But Maidment was found guilty of murdering Tom Jones after trial and earlier pleaded guilty to five counts of robbery and possession of a bladed weapon. These offences were committed whilst he was on the run after murdering Mr Jones.

Maidment, 40, was jailed for life without parole after it was heard that he was already a convicted killer and had been released from prison the previous year for killing 72-year-old Paul Carlson – also in a perceived revenge attack.

Jailing Maidment, Judge David Stockdale QC said: “The striking similarities between the brutal killings of Paul Carlson and Thomas Jones are all too obvious. This was a cold-blooded, premeditated act of execution.”

And an independent review, of the internal serious case review by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, this week made six key recommendations.

Naomi Ibbs, a senior consultant for Niche, a health and social care specialist, said the trust’s report may have been limited, as Maidment’s criminal trial was still ongoing.

But she added: “It is our opinion that were two additional potential lines of enquiry.”

The first was a time gap in 2016 between Maidment being referred by his GP on July 13 for treatment and his eventual assessment by a community health team on September 15.

And the other question raised was concerning how comprehensive an assessment of Maidment was by a community mental health worker as part of the process.

The expert came up with six recommendations, including one stressing that any service users with a conviction for murder should be the subject of multi-disciplinary team reviews while out on licence.

She also criticised trust reviewers for failing to identify any specific care or service delivery problems with the case.

Her review stressed any service users with a murder conviction should be the subject of multi-disciplinary team reviews while out on licence. She also criticised trust reviewers for failing to identify any specific care or service delivery problems.

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