Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 18:29 UK

Wife killer wins appeal hearing

Stephen Marsh
Stephen Marsh claims trial evidence portrayed him as a 'scheming pervert'

A man who persuaded his lover to kill his wife with the knife the pair used in sado-masochistic sex has won the first round of a Court of Appeal case.

Stephen Marsh, 38, was jailed for 18 years at Swansea Crown Court in April 2007 over the killing of wife Jaspal.

Mrs Marsh was stabbed 16 times at her home by Rebecca Harris, 30.

Three appeal judges ruled evidence about Marsh's sexual preferences may have made his conviction unsafe and they agreed to a full appeal hearing.

Mrs Marsh was stabbed at her home in Gorseinon in what the murder trial judge described as "a well-planned killing".

She was confronted in her bedroom by Harris, who was having an affair with Marsh.

Medical examination later showed Mrs Marsh had had struggled with her attacker until she was overcome by her injuries.

Her body was left with a kitchen knife sticking out of her chest. It was the same 8in (20cm) knife Marsh had asked Harris to use on him in bed and had used with other girlfriends in the past.

Marsh claimed to have found his wife after returning from work on 29 July 2006.

Jaspal Marsh
The murder trial heard Jaspal Marsh fought her attacker

He was convicted of acting on a joint enterprise with his married lover after the jury heard he was implicated by circumstantial evidence.

That included evidence that there had been no forced entry to the home and that he had sent a text message to his wife asking her to leave the door open for him.

The prosecution also relied heavily on evidence by Harris, who pleaded guilty to murder in January 2007.

She claimed she had been under the "control" of Marsh, with whom she had been having a nine-month affair after they met while working at a directory inquiries call centre in Swansea.

At the Court of Appeal hearing on Monday, Lord Justice Scott Baker, sitting with Mr Justice Burnett and Judge Jeremy Roberts QC, said it was possible that evidence of Marsh's sexual preferences, which was put before the jury, may have unduly prejudiced his trial.

The evidence related to Marsh's alleged penchant for using knives in the bedroom and evidence that he had once before planned to assault someone and sought a false alibi to do so.

'Other girlfriends'

Marsh's barrister, Michael Birnbaum QC, argued that the admission of the evidence suggested that he was a "scheming sexual pervert".

Granting leave to appeal, Lord Justice Scott Baker said: "We are unclear about the probative value and how the case was put in relation to the evidence of his interest in cutting and his activities in this regard with Harris and other girlfriends.

"We would also like the Crown's assistance about the relevance of the previous planned false alibi and whether the admission of evidence in respect of either of these matters was resisted by the defence.

He added: "In any event, what we are anxious to have is a proper understanding of how the probative value of these matters was weighed against the undoubted prejudicial effect of their being before the jury."

No date has been set for the full appeal hearing.




SEE ALSO
Murder lovers trapped by texts
02 Apr 07 |  South West Wales
Trial of 'amorality and bravado'
03 Apr 07 |  South West Wales
Killer 'ugly inside' says husband
18 May 07 |  South West Wales

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