Husband was 'killed on wife's orders to settle debts'

A debt-ridden woman and her son masterminded the contract killing of her husband in a calculated move motivated by a "combination of greed and loathing", a court heard yesterday.

Nigel Bacon, 50, was found in his remote bungalow in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire in November last year. He had been stabbed repeatedly and died in hospital. He had six wounds, including a fatal blow that severed his jugular vein in what jurors were told was a "planned, determined and cold-blooded killing".

Mr Bacon's widow, Susan Bacon, 55, his son Michael, 21, his father-in-law Sean Woodcock, 42, and Peter Jacques, 29, all deny murder.

Nottingham Crown court was told Mrs Bacon and her son hatched the plot and "decided he had to be killed". They recruited Peter Jacques, an associate of Woodcock, to commit the murder. Mr Bacon, a gamekeeper who owned his own company, is believed to have amassed more than £200,000 in savings. Mrs Bacon, the court heard, had debts of more than £60,000.

Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said Mrs Bacon was in "dire straits whilst her husband was wealthy". He said the Bacons tried unsuccessfully to hire other individuals as killers before settling on Mr Jacques, who was himself thought to have accrued more than £123,000 of debt. The sums were so high that in August 2008 he barricaded himself in his house against bailiffs, the court heard.

The day before the killing, Mr Jacques bought black clothing and three knives, the court heard. The outside lights at the family's home were turned off by Mrs Bacon, while Mr Jacques stabbed Mr Bacon to death, the prosecution said. The jurors were told they would hear the 999 call Mrs Bacon made that evening.

The trial continues.