Barrister tells court of wife's deadly sex trap: 'Lawnmower plot' husband relives alleged ordeal for second time after Appeal Court ruled first trial unfair

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The Independent Online
A BARRISTER who was at the centre of an alleged plot to murder him with a lawnmower told a court for the second time how he was lured into a trap by his wife and her lover.

As his wife watched from the dock at the Old Bailey, Christopher Whybrow described how he was wooed with promises of sex.

Mr Whybrow said he had decided to work from his home at Spring Farm, Leavenheath, Suffolk, rather than his chambers in London because his wife, Susan, was in such a good mood - 'happier than she had been for months'.

She promised to cook his favourite meal of lobster and had been out in the morning to buy the seafood. As he put the Range Rover away at lunch time she had said 'she felt very much like having sex and suggested that we had it on the sitting room floor', he said.

'We went together to the sitting room and she said she was going to the lavatory. While she was away I took my clothes off. She appeared to be horrified and said, 'you shouldn't have done that, I wanted to take your clothes off'. She helped me dress and then she kissed me and as she did so she manoeuvred me across the room to the door.' But far from wanting sex, Mrs Whybrow was luring her husband with promises of love into an attack by Dennis Saunders, her lover, the court has heard.

Mr Sanders, a flying instructor, and Mrs Whybrow were convicted of conspiracy to murder Mr Whybrow in 1991, but earlier this year the Court of Appeal ruled their trial was unfair and ordered a retrial, which has forced Mr Whybrow to relive his alleged ordeal for a second time.

Mr Whybrow told the jury that as his wife was kissing him and moving him across the room he was grabbed from behind, pushed to the floor and had his arms forced behind his back and bound.

Tights were stuffed in his mouth, a blindfold put over his face and he was manhandled into the garden to the top of a steep bank above the lake. He heard the sound of his lawnmower and feared he was about to be run over and that 'something nasty' was going to happen.

He said he struggled violently and managed to break free from his ties even though Mr Saunders was hitting him in the face and trying to strangle him.

Mr Whybrow said they tumbled down the bank on to a bed of brambles and nettles and fought on. He saw his wife watching and appealed to her: 'Please don't let him kill me,' but she replied: 'You have been really horrid to me.' Eventually Mr Saunders scrambled up the bank and left with Mrs Whybrow. The court was told that after the attack the pair fled to Italy but returned after a few days to 'face the music'.

John Mathew QC, for the prosecution, has alleged that Mrs Whybrow and Mr Saunders hatched the plot to murder Mr Whybrow because the marriage was on the rocks, that they were in love and 'without her husband's financial support she was not going to live in the way to which she had become accustomed'.

If Mr Whybrow died his estate went to her, the jury was told.

Both Mrs Whybrow and Mr Saunders, of Colchester, Essex, admitted at their earlier trial conspiring to cause actual bodily harm to Mr Whybrow.

Yesterday Mr Mathew told the jury it had to decide 'whether it was a plan to murder or a plan to assault'. The jurors sent a note to Mr Justice Sachs asking why the previous trial was ruled unfair.

He told them that the Court of Appeal's ruling was: 'We are satisfied that the learned judge's intervention during the evidence of the two defendants went far beyond the bounds of legitimate judicial conduct.'

The trial case continues today.