A Devon pensioner who hatched an elaborate plot to kill his wife has been jailed for four years.
Wickenden repeatedly struck his wife on the head with a metal pipe
Sheets of paper outlining his plan in detail were found at the home of
67-year-old Alan Wickenden, Exeter Crown Court heard.
Wickenden, from Down St Mary, near Crediton, admitted manslaughter by
reason of diminished responsibility.
He killed his 69-year-old wife Janet on 13 November last year in a lay-by on the A396 Exeter to Tiverton road.
After repeatedly striking his wife on the head with a metal pipe, he tried to
escape on a bicycle he had hidden nearby the previous day.
He was chased by a passer-by, who took his bicycle and waited until the police
The court heard that after being taken to a police station, Wickenden immediately told the custody sergeant: "Sergeant, I can save you a lot of time, and I don't see what a solicitor can do because I did it, I killed my wife."
Sentencing Wickenden, Mrs Justice Hallett said it was an "extraordinary
She added: "If you hadn't admitted it all, personally I would find it hard to
accept it was real life."
The judge said the pensioner had killed his wife in a "horribly brutal
fashion" with a "huge degree of premeditation".
But in passing sentence she took into account his age and "previously
Prosecuting counsel Ian Pringle said the pensioner had accumulated
"considerable debts", and he resolved that the only way out was to "rid
himself of his wife".
Mrs Wickenden had vigorously opposed her husband's proposal to sell their
home, valued at around £500,000, the court heard.
On the day or the killing, Wickenden suggested to his wife they go shopping. While returning from nearby Crediton, he pretended that his car was wandering
over the road and pulled over in a lay-by.
He attacked her with the iron pipe, but failed to make his getaway
immediately, Mr Pringle said.
Neil Ford, defending, said his client had been a successful businessman who had enjoyed a "considerably luxurious lifestyle" with his wife.
Having met as teenagers, they married and "lived happily together" for 45 years, bringing up three sons, he said.
Wickenden told a court psychiatrist that Janet was "in almost every respect a
perfect wife", the court heard.
The couple had lived in the Channel Islands, where they owned a light
aircraft, a boat and several cars.
But a failed business venture in Majorca meant Wickenden lost about £450,000
and was forced to sell the family home in Guernsey and move to Devon.
Mr Ford said their lifestyle continued to be "comfortable" and they were
"respected and well-liked" in the local community.
But as his debts mounted, Wickenden became anxious and depressed, Mr Ford
said. He twice considered killing himself.
He added: "The offence was born of desperation, and more importantly it was
born of mental illness. It is something which he will never get over."