Cheating newlywed denies murdering wife

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The Independent Online

A cheating newlywed accused of murdering his wife never seriously considered leaving her, a court heard today.

Michael Roberts, 26, admits strangling his wife Vicky at their Runcorn home last November with a bathrobe cord.

But the Phones4U store manager denies murder, insisting his wife of five months died during a kinky sex game gone wrong.

Roberts cheated on his 25-year-old wife with two other women - Kerrie Hall and Karen Wilson, both colleagues, Liverpool Crown Court has heard.

Despite texting Ms Wilson that he had ended his relationship with his wife, the defendant today said he would never have left her.

Asked by his QC Neil Flewitt: "You never seriously contemplated ending your relationship with Vicky?" the defendant replied: "No, never."

Roberts had been seeing Ms Wilson for a few months behind his wife's back last year when she left her partner.

The accused sent her a message saying he was proud of her and that he too had left his wife.

Today, he told the four women and eight men of the jury, it was a "stupid" text and admitted having "genuine affection" for his lover.

But asked if his feelings for her were strong enough to make him leave his wife, he answered: "No, not at all."

In the weeks before his wife's death, he was sleeping in the spare room of their Partington Square flat after Mrs Roberts, an account manager for Banner Chemicals, discovered he was cheating on her.

Recalling that period, Roberts said: "I was upset that I wasn't with her.

"I missed her.

"It wasn't the same waking up without her.

"I loved her as much as I had always loved her."

Roberts said the week before his wife died was happy as the couple tried to make their marriage work.

On Sunday November 29 they had dinner at his parents' nearby home before walking back to their flat at 9pm.

Once inside, they watched television before his wife made it clear she wanted sex, he said.

"I know exactly what I want," Mrs Roberts allegedly said, before getting a black bathrobe cord from their bedroom.

The defendant said they began having sex on their sofa with the cord around his wife's neck.

They changed positions with him behind and retied the cord.

Roberts, who is 6ft and said he weighed 9st at the time, told the court his wife, who was an inch shorter but more than 13st, told him to pull "tighter".

He said: "She asked a third time 'tighter', which isn't massively unusual.

"As I pulled tighter, I am trying to be conscious because she bruised like anything, like a porcelain doll."

He said after they both orgasmed he slackened the cord and Mrs Roberts fell to the floor.

"It's something she would do anyway," he said.

Mrs Roberts did not move and the defendant thought she was playing a game.

"I was waiting for her to jump up and say 'Boo' or 'Raah'."

He did not know what happened to her, he said, or why he did not phone for an ambulance or contact their parents.

"I put her body on the black sofa," he said.

"I got her monkey blanket from the spare room and covered her and got the quilt for her, tucking her in as though she was asleep.

"I was happy to believe she was asleep and all this was a horrible nightmare."

Roberts left his wife's dead body on the sofa that night and had four long phone conversations with his lover, Karen Wilson.

He said he did not believe Mrs Roberts was dead, adding: "I didn't want to deal with what was happening.

"Also, I had said I would call her (Ms Wilson) - it would be weird if I didn't."

Ms Wilson believed at that point that Roberts and his wife had split up and was looking forward to meeting him the next day to go shopping in Chester.

"I felt I would have to go, I don't let people down," said Roberts.

Mr Flewitt replied: "But you had a dead body in the living room.

"What were you proposing to do?"

Roberts said he moved his wife's corpse to their spare room and met his lover the next day.

He had already begun telling "a lot of lies", said Mr Flewitt.

From Chester, Roberts phoned his mother-in-law, Janet Wynne-Jones, to ask what Vicky wanted for Christmas.

"I actually was looking in Debenhams for various things for Christmas even though I knew she was dead," said Roberts, his voice going quiet at points.

"I just wanted to believe she was asleep.

"I didn't want to get caught out at Christmas so wanted to carry on shopping."

That evening, Roberts and Ms Wilson had a pub dinner in Mold where they were "all over each other kissing and touching".

They slept together that night at a Bangor Travelodge.

Roberts, supported by his father and brother in the public gallery, had already started texting messages from his wife's phone to himself and her friends and family to make it appear she was alive.

When asked why he was texting and phoning himself from his wife's phone, he answered: "I hadn't heard from her all day.

"I knew I wouldn't hear from her but thought to text myself so I could see her picture on my phone and I was all happy again.

"It was a bit of normality."

He added: "It was nice to be receiving messages from her."

Roberts bought sponges, tape and thermal insulation sheets to wrap his wife's body in after deciding to hide it in their garage.

He said: "I bought thermal because it was winter and I didn't want her to get cold in the garage."

"Had you wanted her to die?" asked his barrister.

"No, not at all," Roberts answered.

The trial continues tomorrow.