Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Sons defend murder accused father

Maureen Hale
Maureen Hale vanished in June 1999

Two children of a businessman accused of murdering his wife almost 10 years ago have told a court their father was "loving and caring".

Martin Hale, 51, is accused of killing Maureen Hale, 42, after an argument at their family home in Thames Ditton, in June 1999, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Oliver Hale, 22, told the court how his father "loved my mother dearly".

Martin Hale denies murdering his wife, claiming she walked out on him. Her body has never been found.

Mother's absence

Oliver, one of the couple's four children, said: "My father's attitude was that he loved my mother dearly and would do anything to keep within that relationship and rebuild that relationship."

Though he said he had been "alarmed" by his mother's absence, he insisted there were "so many other changes going on at the time" that he had not been too concerned.

He hasn't told me to be quiet, he hasn't created a consensus, he hasn't done anything to give me the impression that he's hiding something
Oliver Hale, son

When asked whether he had any reason to suspect his father may have killed Mrs Hale, he replied: "He hasn't told me to be quiet, he hasn't created a consensus, he hasn't done anything to give me the impression that he's hiding something."

Hale's second son, Tristram, 20, described Mr Hale as "a loving and caring father".

"He was trying to do the best for us and keep us happy. He was trying to not upset us."

Kingston Crown Court earlier heard in a note, found in Martin Hale's briefcase, he allegedly considered disposing of Mrs Hale's body at sea, by fire, by acid or in landfill.

Mr Hale also visited a friend who ran a pet cemetery and offered him 20,000 to hire one of the incinerators, prosecutors alleged.

The jury heard Mr Hale's account of the night his wife vanished was that he had been out for a drink and when he got back his wife told him she was going out.

But the prosecution questioned this because she had left her handbag and possessions in her bedroom, had not arranged to meet anyone and her Renault Megane was left on the drive.

The trial continues.

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SEE ALSO
Man charged with murdering wife
18 Jun 08 |  England

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