Life term for man who murdered estranged wife

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The Independent Online

An estranged husband who waited in hiding before he stabbed his wife to death on her way to work was jailed for life today.

John Dryden, 43, could not accept his marriage to part-time nurse and student Tracy, 37, was over when the pair separated and began to stalk her when she met another man.

He followed her to and from work several times before he crouched on a grass verge at the side of the road where she parked and leapt out one morning.

Dryden, from Ingleton, Yorkshire, then stabbed her twice in the chest with "considerable force" in broad daylight on a suburban street in Halton, Lancaster, in March.

Mrs Dryden, the mother of his two young sons, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Before the attack, one witness heard Dryden shout: "You are doing my head in. I cannot cope. I have had enough."

The couple married in 2000 but their relationship began to show signs of stress around five years later, Preston Crown Court was told.

In October 2008 he moved out of the family home in a trial separation and lived five minutes away in a rented flat.

Early the following year he became suspicious that Mrs Dryden was seeing another man and started to check her emails.

The relationship deteriorated further when they disagreed about the proceeds of a future sale of their house.

A month before the killing he broke into their home and smashed her computer with a crowbar when he realised she had changed her password.

Service engineer Dryden, of Thacking Lane, must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison before he can be considered for parole after he earlier pleaded guilty to her murder.

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Russell QC told the defendant: "The facts of this terrible tragedy are relatively straightforward.

"You were not prepared to accept your relationship with your wife was over and your compulsive behaviour may have proved a factor in your becoming obsessed.

"Your inability to accept it was indeed over and your sense of grievance about the terms of the separation resulted in you following your wife about, effectively stalking her and watching her activities."

He added: "Clearly you were unable to cope with the situation but equally you were fully aware of the enormity of the actions you were to embark upon."

In a statement released through Lancashire Police, Mrs Dryden's family said: "Tracy was a loving and wonderful mother, daughter and sister. She had many friends and real enthusiasm for walking, swimming, running and climbing with her sons.

"She was completely dedicated to her two children, whilst at the same time working and completing her PhD. She will be dreadfully missed by us all and is an irreplaceable part of all our lives."

Detective Inspector Martin Clague said, "I strongly believe justice has been done. This is a reasonable sentence and what was expected. This was an extremely tragic case and our thoughts today are with Tracy's friends and family."