Hope fades for wife 'left injured' by husband

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The Independent Online

Northern Correspondent

The body of Jacqueline Phillips may still be concealed in a remote Lincolnshire forest, five days after a volatile relationship became deadly.

More than 200 police and soldiers have searched fruitlessly for two days in 10 square miles of dense woodland. When they resume today, they will have little hope of finding 26-year-old Mrs Phillips alive. All they have to go on is the clue left posthumously by her husband before a hosepipe was attached to his car's exhaust pipe.

John Phillips wrote a note before the fumes overcame him. He said he had harmed his wife, possibly killed her, and then left her by a road in some woods near Market Rasen. He did not know whether she was dead or alive. That was on Tuesday morning, when a forestry worker found Mr Phillips dead in the family Cavalier, in woods near Peterborough.

The couple married four years ago. Mr Phillips was 15 years older than Mrs Phillips, who had a son, Jonathan, now seven, from another relationship. John Phillips brought the boy up as his own son, neighbours in Stainforth, South Yorkshire, said yesterday. They said Mrs Phillips had a "bubbly" personality, but the marriage became strained after she got a job managing a fast-food restaurant in Doncaster.

Jacqueline moved out with Jonathan, renting a house near her parents and, when divorce papers arrived from the solicitor, John Phillips cracked. "He brought the letter to show us. I knew he was cracking up then because he couldn't settle," Kath Noble, a neighbour and confidant of the couple, said. "He absolutely idolised her." Mrs Phillips was last seen driving away from the family homeon Friday, cards celebrating Mr Phillips' 41st birthday on the window sill.

On Saturday, cash was withdrawn from the couple's account in Stainforth, and Mr Phillips visited a sister in Peterborough. He told her he was going to meet Jacqueline in Market Rasen.

Jonathan has been told his mother is missing. He is staying in Doncaster with an aunt, Karen Bowling. "John was obsessed with Jacqueline, and just couldn't let go when the marriage broke down," Mrs Bowling said. "I think they had been happy once, but drifted apart. She wanted to break free."