Farmer gets life for murdering estranged wife

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The Independent Online

A wealthy farmer has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years for murdering his wife, whose body has never been found.

Retired teacher Kate Prout, 55, vanished from the £1.2 million farm she shared with her husband Adrian Prout during acrimonious divorce proceedings. Prout, 47, who owns a successful pipe-laying business and runs a commercial pheasant shoot, was found guilty of her murder on Friday.



Mr Justice Nigel Davis, at Bristol Crown Court, sentenced Prout, from Redmarley, Gloucestershire, to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years.



Mr Justice Davis told Prout: "One of the pieces of evidence that sticks in my mind is Kate Prout used to remember her parents by placing flowers on her grave. I expect her family would like to place flowers on her grave but they can't, and they can't because of you."



The judge said: "It was said on your behalf that there was some sort of stress or a degree of provocation. I couldn't accept even that. The truth is you allowed your temper to erupt and it was your anger that killed her. How you killed her is only known to you. You most probably did it by strangling her."



Defending counsel Elizabeth Marsh said a "prolonged period of stress" could be considered as a mitigating factor. Miss Marsh then invited the court to consider events leading up to Mrs Prout's disappearance, in particular October 27 2007, when she drunkenly abused Prout in front of friends at the local pub. She went on: "That may have provoked instant retaliation."



Referring to the couple's divorce proceedings, Miss Marsh added: "It's quite clear on both sides there had been lengthy and difficult periods of negotiation."



Following the conviction, Mrs Prout's emotional family urged Prout to reveal where her body was hidden and end their anguish.



Her brother, Richard Wakefield, 59, from Lypiatt, Gloucestershire, said: "Nothing will bring Kate back to us, but we are pleased that justice has been done.



"It is a big relief that the trial has ended with this verdict and this will go some way towards allowing us to move forward. We would, however, appeal to Adrian to tell us what happened to Kate and where she is because we would like to lay her to rest and say our goodbyes."