Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Friday, 28 November 2008

Farmer guilty of killing his wife

Jane Wilson
Jane Wilson's death was initially treated as a tragic accident

A farmer from Cumbria has been found guilty of murdering his wife.

A jury at Carlisle Crown Court found Robert Wilson, 40, guilty of killing his wife Jane, 53, at their farm in Kirkandrews-on-Eden, near Carlisle.

He claimed his wife died in an accident in December 2007 but the prosecution said he staged it to make it look like she had fallen beneath his tractor.

Mr Justice David Clarke jailed him for life, saying he must serve a minimum of 22 years in prison.

The court had heard how Mr Wilson had a mistress, Kathy McNeil from Wales, and was about 300,000 in debt when his wife died.

The court was also told there were life insurance policies, in his and his wife's names, totalling about 400,000.

Mrs Wilson's death was initially treated by police as a tragic accident when she was crushed under the wheels of his tractor.

A devious and accomplished liar who murdered his wife before, or by, running over her head in his tractor
Brian Cummings QC

Suspicions were later raised when her two children, Sharon and Lee Kennedy, visited the farmhouse weeks after their mother's death and found cards from Wilson's lover.

They used a scanner to make copies of the cards, their mother's will, and insurance documents before leaving.

Wilson had begun a relationship with Kathy McNeil, 48, in October 2006 when she was working in a bar in Marbella.

Cancer lies

He visited Mrs McNeil, who was originally from Wales, at least eight times in Spain while his wife was still alive and took her on a 14,000 holiday to the Maldives.

At first he told Mrs McNeil his wife had died from cancer, but then when she moved from Spain to be with him in 2007 he changed his story to say she had actually died in a tractor accident.

Wilson claimed he had an open marriage and that his affair with Mrs McNeil and a liaison he had with another woman in 2005 were done with his wife's blessing.

Brian Cummings QC, prosecuting, described Mr Wilson as a devious and accomplished liar who had murdered his wife before, or by, running over her head in his tractor.

Joanna Greenberg QC for the defence said the prosecution had failed to show that her death was anything other than a tragic accident and urged the jury to remember they could not convict if they had any reasonable doubt.

Jane Wilson's daughter, Sharon Kennedy, sobbed uncontrollably as the jury delivered the guilty verdict.

Wilson sat with his head bowed and did not react.

Justice for Jane

Outside the court a spokeswoman read out a statement on behalf of the family. She said: "The last year has been a difficult one and has caused us to feel there is no good left in this world.

"We have got justice for Jane and hopefully it will help restore our faith and trust in people again.

"When you are surrounded by evil and immorality, it's easy to become consumed in bitterness and hate."

Ch Insp Paul Duhig, Senior Investigating Officer in the case, said: "This was a devastating attack on an innocent woman, carried out by her husband whom she trusted completely.

"Over the last four weeks the court has heard how Wilson spun an elaborate web of lies to cover up a double life which culminated in the callous murder of his wife.

"Wilson's conviction will ensure that a dangerous man remains in custody for a significant period of time where he can no longer pose a threat to the public."

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