A wealthy landowner who was jailed for murdering his wife while pleading his innocence has finally confessed and led police to the spot where he buried her body four years ago.
Adrian Prout, 49, had always denied killing his estranged wife, Kate Prout, but was convicted of murder last year and jailed for a minimum of 18 years.
He was yesterday escorted to the 276-acre farm in Redmarley, Gloucestershire, after confessing the murder to detectives on Thursday. The confession seems to have been triggered after he failed a polygraph test while in Garth prison, Lancashire, four months ago. It came a year to the day after his wife's family pleaded with him to reveal where he had hidden her body.
The test was taken at the behest of his fiancée, Debbie Garlick, who had campaigned against his conviction.
Kate Prout's family last night said: "We have always wanted Adrian to tell us where Kate's body is, this news has come as something of a shock."
Prout, who owned a successful pipe-laying business and ran a commercial pheasant shoot, was seen at Redhill farm handcuffed to an officer as the search began yesterday. He was driven into a wood in a police car from where he emerged 25 minutes later. Police said they search of the area next week but warned it was likely to take time.
The couple married in 2000, moving into Redhill farm in 2004. The first signs of marital problems were recorded in Mrs Prout's diary in 2006, and she suspected he was having an affair, the court was told last year. She was last seen on Bonfire night 2007 – the day after she confronted her husband with an increased divorce demand of £800,000. Mrs Prout, 55, was reported missing five days later by her husband, who was arrested twice before being charged with murder in March 2009.
Prout was convicted of murder last February at Bristol Crown Court. His friends have campaigned for his release ever since, claiming he was victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Following the lie detector test in July, Prout is said to have told his fiancée that he strangled his retired teacher wife after a row and buried her body on the farm – now worth £1.2m. Ms Garlick, who convinced Prout to undergo the test to prove his innocence, is believed to have subsequently contacted Gloucestershire Police. Prout, who fathered a daughter with Ms Garlick in January 2010, is understood to have been "destroyed and completely in shock" after the confession.
Police always believed Prout had strangled his wife before burying her body. Even after he was jailed, officers continued to search the farm for her remains.
Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: "The investigation into Kate Prout's death was challenging and complex, and ultimately led to Adrian Prout's conviction. This latest piece of information does not change that."