22-year minimum term for murderer

A "cynical and cruel" killer who murdered his 21-year-old wife then dismembered her with an electric saw and hid her remains was today told that he would stay in prison for at least 22 years.

Unemployed Nicky Ward, 29, was jailed after a jury at Norwich Crown Court convicted him of murdering pub waitress Emma Ward at the home they shared in Rockland St Peter, Norfolk, in spring last year.

Judge Peter Jacobs imposed a mandatory life term and said Ward could not be considered for parole until he had spent 22 years in jail.

Detectives said no trace of Mrs Ward had been found and her family urged Ward to reveal where he had hidden her remains.

Ward denied murder, telling jurors he killed his wife accidentally in self-defence during a row and had no memory of dismembering her or disposing of her remains.

Jurors were told that relatives raised the alarm after Mrs Ward - whose parents David and Elaine Noonan live in Rockland All Saints, Norfolk - vanished in late March 2010.

Ward told police that his wife had left him for another man but forensic investigations revealed that she had been killed in a bedroom, then dragged to the bathroom and cut up with a £55 saw bought in a local hardware store.

Inquiries showed that Ward had cleaned carpets and repainted - but not realised that his wife's blood had seeped through to floorboards and left a trail for scientists to follow.

The judge said the amount of blood found suggested that Ward had attacked his wife with a "sharp instrument".

"What happened after that was truly dreadful," he said. "You embarked upon a cynical and cruel effort to cover your tracks."

The judge said no-one could be sure when Mrs Ward died but evidence pointed to late March or early April.

Jurors were also told how evidence suggested that the Wards' marriage had broken down but only Ward knew what had caused the row which led to his wife's death.

They heard that the couple met in 2006 and married the following year.

"I cannot begin to imagine the pain and terror Emma must have felt. It is so unbearable to think about," said Mr Noonan after the hearing.

"We have not been able to grieve for Emma because we do not know where she is.

"If Nick Ward has any remorse he must do the decent thing and tell us where he has put our daughter."

Ward, whose family live in Basildon, Essex, showed little sign of emotion as the verdict was returned and the sentence passed.