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Man jailed for life for lover's murder

A man found guilty of murdering his married lover after she put pressure on him to move in with her was sentenced to life imprisonment today and told he must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.

Royal Mail worker Roger Kearney, 57, stabbed Paula Poolton seven times and then dumped her in the boot of her Peugeot car on October 17 2008. Her body was not found until 11 days later.

The pair were having an affair during the summer of 2008 but friends of Mrs Poolton, 40, said Kearney was not as keen on the relationship despite the fact she was considering leaving her husband Richard.

Kearney, of Sarisbury Green, near Southampton, Hampshire, denied the murder.

Today he was sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by Mr Justice Silber, who had presided over his trial at Winchester Crown Court.

The judge said Kearney and Mrs Poolton had been having an affair for several months, without the knowledge of either his partner or Mrs Poolton's husband.

When they argued, Kearney became fearful that Mrs Poolton might tell his partner about their relationship, ruining the "comfortable life" he was leading.

The judge said: "My conclusion is you decided to murder Paula Poolton some time between 5.30pm and 9.30pm on the night when she was murdered.

"I cannot be sure when you made that decision, but my guess is there was only a limited amount of pre-meditation and planning."

But the killing was aggravated by the use of the knife and the concealing of the body, said the judge.

At his trial, Kearney's defence told the jury of six men and six women that he had not done it and he was "wrongly accused" but admitted he was a "love rat" after cheating on his long-term partner with Mrs Poolton.

Earlier in the six-week trial, the prosecution had admitted there was no forensic evidence or witnesses pointing to Kearney.

But Nicholas Haggan QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Kearney lied about his whereabouts during a crucial hour after Mrs Poolton's car was last seen on CCTV.

He said he had left for a night shift at 10pm for the 15-minute drive to work when CCTV footage showed he left home at 9.31pm.

He also lied about the route saying he drove away from the spot near Swanwick railway station in Hampshire where Mrs Poolton's car was found, towards his work.

But footage showed Kearney's Mitsubishi Shogun driving towards the railway station.

Kearney also washed his clothes that night, including a fluorescent jacket.

On the day she disappeared, Mrs Poolton told her friend, Carol Bertie, she had been looking for a house to buy and to move in with Kearney but the friend feared Kearney was not as keen.