Pilot jailed for killing wife with hammer

A British Airways captain who admitted killing his wife was acquitted of her murder yesterday, but given 26 years for manslaughter.

Robert Brown, 47, believed he was "stitched up" by a prenuptial agreement with his estranged wife, Joanna Brown. He bludgeoned her to death with a hammer in their home in Ascot, Berkshire, on 31 October last year, put her body into the boot of his car, and took it to a prepared grave in Windsor Great Park.

Their two children hid in a playroom in the house during the attack. Brown's daughter told police she heard her parents "hitting each other" before she watched "dad put mum in the car because he... hurt her". A jury at Reading Crown Court acquitted him of murder but convicted him of obstructing a coroner from holding an inquest. Brown had already admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Brown said he had hit her with a hammer after an argument over schools. He told police he had been suffering from "severe stress" and an "abnormality of mental function" which substantially impaired his self-control.