Life term for man who murdered wife

An American millionaire who killed his wife in a ferocious and sustained knife attack outside their luxury home was jailed for at least 16 years today.

Harold Landry, who will be 79 by the time he can be considered for parole, was found guilty of murdering his wife Lucy by a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday.

Jailing the retired engineer for life, Mr Justice Foskett said the attack on Mrs Landry at their home near Pershore, Worcestershire, had been "unspeakable and unforgivable".

Landry, 65, stood with his hands behind his back and showed no sign of emotion as the judge told him he would only be given parole if the authorities ruled that he no longer posed a threat to the public.

It emerged after yesterday's guilty verdict that Landry had been convicted of aggravated battery in October 1994 after gunning down a love rival while living in Covington, Louisiana.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Foskett said jurors had quite rightly rejected Landry's claim that he was guilty only of manslaughter because his wife had provoked him.

The judge told Landry: "They (the jury) did not need to hear about your previous conviction in order to reject the case that you advanced.

"There is a trait within you that, if provoked and challenged, can lead to serious violence."

The judge also criticised Landry for claiming during his trial that his wife had threatened him with a knife shortly before he chased her from their home on the upmarket Besford Court estate.

The claim had "all the hallmarks" of a story dreamt up after the event to try to establish a defence case, the judge added.

Describing the murder itself as brutal and vicious, Mr Justice Foskett pointed out that most of the 23 stab wounds suffered by Mrs Landry had been inflicted as she was lying on the ground attempting to protect herself.

"I have no doubt that you intended to kill her," the judge told Landry. "I have no doubt that you knew she was dead when you left her body."

The jury of eight women and four men heard that Mrs Landry - who met her husband in an internet chatroom - was left to die in a hedge near her marital home late on February 1 last year.

At the time of the killing, the couple had both formed new relationships and Mr Landry had made efforts to ensure that his wife would not benefit from their impending divorce.

After the murder, Landry drove to his new partner's cottage to tell her "something awful" had happened.

When he arrived at the property, the court heard, Landry gave his new partner three banker's drafts for a total of £30,000, a bundle of cash, as well as the keys to his car and several signed blank cheques.

He subsequently set off to walk back to his home but was arrested by police in a country lane.

The businessman, who made his fortune by designing cranes for oil rigs, was given a suspended sentence after the shooting in Louisiana.

In a statement issued by West Mercia Police yesterday, Mrs Landry's family described the 38-year-old as a "bright, beautiful, bubbly person" who was much loved.

The relatives' statement read: "To have her taken away from us in this way has caused devastation to us all.

"We are relieved with the verdict. It has been an extremely traumatic year for everyone but finally, justice has been done for Lucy. We thank everyone involved who has helped achieve this."