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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Architect guilty of killing wife
Michael Morton
Gracia was in the process of divorcing Michael Morton
A wealthy architect has been jailed for seven years for killing his estranged wife.

Michael Morton, 67, killed Gracia, 40, after she visited his Notting Hill home, in west London, on 12 November 1997. Her body has never been found.

The prosecution said the violinist died in a row over plans to send their child to a fee-paying school. She was also trying to divorce her husband.

The millionaire was cleared of murder, but convicted of manslaughter.

Police believe Morton, who had knowledge of the building trade, disposed of Mrs Morton's body locally.

Passing sentence Judge Jeremy Roberts said he might have been able to reduce the sentence considerably had Morton accepted his guilt.

But the denial had left Mrs Morton's family "agonising" for years over her fate.

I am sure it was a sudden flare-up brought about by a disagreement about schooling about which you felt strongly
Judge Jeremy Roberts

The judge said despite there being no evidence or explanation as to what happened to Mrs Morton, there had been signs her husband was in a state of emotional turmoil at the time.

"I am sure it was a sudden flare-up brought about by a disagreement about schooling about which you felt strongly."

Mrs Morton's car was left outside her husband's house and the defendant said she had asked him to look after it and their child.

But six years later police discovered CCTV footage of him visiting her flat in Kensington, west London, in secret, using his missing wife's keys.

Gracia Morton
Gracia Morton's body has never been found
Morton had been devastated when his wife left him and divorce proceedings had become bitter.

On the day Mrs Morton disappeared she had told her solicitor she planned to meet her husband to discuss their child's schooling.

At a trial in November last year the jury failed to reach a verdict.

Det Chf Supt Hamish Campbell, who led the investigation, said: "There have been a number of factors that have made this a particularly difficult and unusual investigation, not least that Gracia's body has never been recovered and the length of time that has passed since she disappeared.

'Whilst we have been unable to find her body I hope that today's result proves a comfort to the family and friends of Gracia."

He said that they would be questioning Morton over the whereabouts of the body before the end of the year.


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