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Friday, 28 July, 2000, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Husband cleared of pool murder
Swimming pool
Diana and her cat were found in the couple's pool
A businessman has been cleared of organising his wife's murder in their swimming pool - but his best man is found guilty of the killing.

Colin Harrold, 35, had been charged with arranging the killing of his wife by offering Darren Lake, 31, 20,000 to murder her.

Lake - who had already admitted murder - was sentenced to life in prison.

Colin and Diana Harrold
The couple had met through a lonely hearts column
The body of beautician Diane was found in a swimming pool at the couple's luxury home in Uffington.

But the jury at Nottingham Crown Court rejected the prosecution's case that Mr Harrold had wanted Diane - his second wife - dead so he would be free to lead a "playboy lifestyle".

Mr Harrold's brother, Neil, 37, said outside the court: "I am overjoyed but it is slightly tempered by the fact I have lost my sister-in-law."

'Totally overcome'

The defendant's lawyer Robert Starr said: "Mr Harrold will be taken straight home now and we will be sitting down to talk to him.

"He has obviously been very nervous all day and is totally overcome."

The jury deliberated for nine-and-a-half hours before reaching their unanimous verdict on day 11 of the trial.

The couple's home in Uffington
The couple's luxury home in Uffington
The prosecution had alleged that Mr Harrold wanted his wife dead because she was "bleeding him dry".

He was accused of blackmailing Lake - who was best man at his first wedding - to make him carry out the crime while he was on a trip to Amsterdam's red light district.

Mr Harrold had admitted that shortly before his wife's murder he had had an affair with another woman.

In addition, he was said to be frustrated because his wife wanted to start a family, but he was not enthusiastic because he had two sons from his previous marriage.

The jury was also told details about Mr Harrold's shady business affairs, including a fraud involving selling on books which were destined to pulped.

He admitted bribing people at two book companies in return for turning a blind eye to the practice.

Death threat

Lake arrived at court for sentencing under armed police guard. The same security measures were in place when he gave evidence last week at the trial of Mr Harrold.

Darren Lake
Lake was sentenced to life in prison after admitting murder
In court the judge was told that police intelligence reports had revealed a significant threat to Lake's life.

The judge told him it was to his credit that he had given evidence, despite the risk to his life.

Lake said he murdered Mrs Harrold because he was frightened of her husband, who had blackmailed him with a photograph which allegedly showed him being raped by three men on holiday 10 years ago.

A post-mortem examination showed that Mrs Harrold, a former nurse originally from Scunthorpe, drowned after being bludgeoned inside the house and dragged to the outdoor pool.

The body of Cleo, the couple's black cat, was found beside her in the water, along with a torch.

Police search
Police searched the grounds for clues
Lake, of Peterborough, Cambs, eventually confessed to the murder, saying he bludgeoned Mrs Harrold with a wooden newel post he had bought from a branch of Texas Homecare the day before.

Mr Harrold was originally charged with murder and conspiracy to murder, but the judge, Mr Justice Morland, directed the jury not to return a verdict on the second charge.

Diane had met Colin Harrold through a lonely hearts advertisement and after their marriage in 1997 bought a beauty salon business in Stamford, Lincs.

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