Life for wife's fake robbery murder

A shopkeeper who bludgeoned his postmistress wife to death then blamed an armed robber was jailed for life today.

Robin Garbutt, 45, knew his wife Diana had been unfaithful and feared his theft of thousands of pounds from the post office they ran was about to be discovered.



A jury at Teesside Crown Court rejected his story that a raider with a gun told him "don't do anything stupid, we've got your wife" before robbing him as he worked, and that moments later he discovered her body in bed.



Garbutt shook his head as he was convicted by the jury of eight men and four women by a majority of ten to two.



His sister collapsed in tears as the verdict was announced. Diana Garbutt's mother Agnes Gaylor also wept.



The panel had been deliberating for nearly 13 hours.



Mr Justice Openshaw sentenced Garbutt to life in prison and told him he would serve a minimum of 20 years.



Garbutt hit his wife three times over the head with a metal bar in the living quarters above the Melsonby Village Shop and Post Office in North Yorkshire the early hours of March 23 last year.



He then opened the shop as normal and served around 60 customers before closing again.



He dialled 999 and claimed his wife had been attacked, crying hysterically.



When a paramedic told him rigor mortis had already set in, he challenged this, insisting: "She's still warm."



He told police a raider had robbed him and when he ran upstairs his wife was motionless, face down on the bed.



His story unravelled after officers delved into the secrets of his seemingly happy marriage.



They found the couple had £30,000 in credit card debts and despite their long hours were making little profit in the bustling shop at the heart of the community.



They were due to go on holiday to the US, where his wife's father was from, and Garbutt is thought to have feared a relief postmaster would discover the money was missing.



Police also discovered his wife, 40, had become involved with three other men, having a drunken "intimate" encounter on a sofa with one, flirting on Facebook with another and kissing a third - the husband of her cousin.



Mrs Garbutt, who the killer claimed had a higher sex drive than him, was also looking online for men to date.



The couple had discussed splitting and Garbutt faced a future with no assets as what they had was in his wife's name.



A crucial piece of evidence came from a meal of fish and chips they had the night before she died.



An expert on digestion told the jury Mrs Garbutt stopped processing the meal around six to eight hours after she finished eating it - giving a likely time of death in the early hours rather than when Garbutt claimed the robber struck.











Mr Justice Openshaw said Garbutt's lies had been exposed as "pure humbug".

He said the defendant had shown no remorse over his wife, adding: "He has always accompanied his lies with sanctimonious lies of his love for her.



"By their verdict, the jury have exposed this as pure humbug.



"This was a brutal, planned, cold-blooded murder of his wife as she lay sleeping in bed."













Outside court, the victim's mother Agnes Gaylor said: "I am not thinking about Robin now.

"I'm not going to let Robin enter my head after today."



In a statement read on her behalf, she said: "Diana meant the world to us and we are still struggling to come to terms with what happened to her on that awful day.



"We loved her with all our hearts, our loss is unbearable."













Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, who led the inquiry for North Yorkshire Police, said: "It is satisfying that we have been able to secure justice for Diana Garbutt and her family in this most tragic and distressing of cases.

"I hope the murder conviction of her husband Robin Garbutt will provide a measure of comfort and closure, allowing her family to start rebuilding their lives after a very traumatic year.



"The murder of Diana - and the subsequent arrest and charge of Robin Garbutt - has also caused a great deal of upset and distress to the residents of Melsonby.



"In particular, the original circumstances that she was killed during an armed robbery which turned out to be a bogus scenario made up by Garbutt to cover his tracks. I would again like to reiterate North Yorkshire Police's sincere thanks to local residents who have supported the police throughout the investigation.



"As for Robin Garbutt, he has shown himself to be a calculating and deceptive individual who attempted an elaborate cover-up after he violently ended his wife's life as she lay asleep in bed.



"His actions that morning not only killed Diana, they also devastated the lives of Diana's family and plunged a small, close-knit community into fear.



"That he did not have the decency to admit his guilt from the outset and therefore spare Diana's family the pain of reliving the tragic events in full during a trial, demonstrates the type of selfish and deluded individual that Robin Garbutt really is."



Xanthe Tait, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for North Yorkshire and Humberside, said: "Diana Garbutt's life was cut brutally and tragically short. Her family is left to forever mourn her loss.



"She was violently bludgeoned to death by her husband as she lay sleeping. It was a callous crime motivated by the basest of human characteristics.



"Robin Garbutt went to great lengths in creating a cover story involving a robber with a gun, bludgeoning his wife to death: a story which he maintained throughout the trial - lying about his finances, lying about his relationship with his wife and lying about the robbery - to conceal his appalling crimes.



"We have worked closely with North Yorkshire Police to build a robust prosecution case and secure justice for Diana. Our thoughts are with her family and we hope that today's conviction will bring them some measure of comfort and peace."















Garbutt, looking thin, did not look at his family and friends in the public gallery as he was led away.

The judge believed the murder was motivated by Garbutt's fear of being exposed for stealing from the Post Office.



It was significant that his wife had been looking at the business accounts on the night he killed her, though he did not want to speculate about what exactly happened that night.



Garbutt planned to kill his wife with a metal bar as she slept.



"There was no struggle, she never awoke," the judge said.



"He struck three savage blows, smashing her skull and causing her immediate death as clearly he intended."



Garbutt hid the weapon across the road on a wall, then opened shop as normal.



"He feigned cheerfulness as he served customers as he attempted to deceive them that all was well."



The judge said Garbutt had told the same "ludicrous story from beginning to end".

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?