Millionaire cleared of killing ex-partner killing

A MILLIONAIRE businessman was cleared yesterday of murdering his former common-law wife after the judge said the jury could have found that a key prosecution witness was the killer.

Derek Goldsmith, 62, of Crockham Hill, Kent, was acquitted of murder and conspiracy to murder Diana Goldsmith, 44, in January 1995.

Counsel for the prosecution told Maidstone Crown Court that Mr Goldsmith hired a hitman to murder Ms Goldsmith in 1994 to gain "care and control" of their two children after he lost a custody battle. Her remains were found in 1997.

A key prosecution witness, Mr Goldsmith's former son-in-law Michael Fitzpatrick, a convicted armed robber, had admitted conspiracy to murder Ms Goldsmith. But before the case, the prosecution agreed to enter a not-guilty verdict for Mr Fitzpatrick on a charge of murdering Ms Goldsmith, despite evidence that he could have committed the crime himself.

The judge told the jury to find Mr Goldsmith not guilty, saying it was "unsafe" to continue the trial. He said: "The prosecution have to accept that the jury would be entitled to reject the explanations which Michael Fitzpatrick has tended in the witness box and thus conclude that Michael Fitzpatrick did, or may have, murdered her."

Mr Goldsmith was arrested after Mr Fitzpatrick, 37, a scrapdealer from Bromley, south-east London, told police on 3 July last year that Mr Goldsmith paid pounds 20,000 to Ian Colligan to kill her. Colligan committed suicide in prison.

Mr Fitzpatrick admittedburying the body in a friend's garden in Bromley. He had told his friend that he was burying 50kg of cannabis.

Bridget Petherbridge, solicitor for Mr Goldsmith, said later: "He has maintained his innocence throughout and he is delighted with the verdict."

Ms Goldsmith, who was living in Sevenoaks, was last seen taking her children to school on 25 January 1995.

She had cohabited with Derek Goldsmith from 1979 to 1991 and had taken his surname, although they were never legally married.

When the relationship broke up in 1991 there was a dispute over care and control of their son, which was resolved in favour of Ms Goldsmith in a lengthy and bitter hearing in the High Court in 1992. Mr Goldsmith launched an appeal but later abandoned it.

According to Mr Fitzpatrick, Ms Goldsmith was abducted from her home on 25 January 1995 by Colligan and another man, who drove to her house in Sevenoaks. Colligan was said to have driven off with Ms Goldsmith, whose badly decomposed body was found two years later.

The court was told that Mr Goldsmith had been "obsessed" by the struggle with Ms Goldsmith over the custody of his son and daughter.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Newly Qualified Teachers - Primary, Cardiff

£95 - £105 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: NEWL...

Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobWe are currently recruiting for an...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes