updated 3/17/2008 5:38:12 AM ET 2008-03-17T09:38:12

A retiree who allegedly confessed to a pair of cats that he had beaten his partner to death was cleared of murder Friday.

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David Henton, 73, was accused of killing Joyce Sutton at her home near Neath, in south Wales, in January 2006.

He was arrested after police bugged his car and home and believed they heard him confessing to Sutton's pet cats, Twinkie and Pudsey.

The recording played to the jury was of poor quality, and Henton's lawyers maintained he was saying something else.

The jury also found him not guilty of manslaughter following a seven-week trial.

Henton and Sutton had separate homes despite a long relationship, but saw each other every day.

Henton testified that the cats knew who killed Sutton.

"To me, Joyce's heart is still in those cats," he said. "They would say what happened that night. I have said it before: If only those cats could talk."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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