Man 'murdered wife, then listed ways to dump body'

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The Independent Online

A businessman murdered his wife after she filed for divorce and then drew up a list of ways to dispose of her body, a court was told yesterday.

Martin Hale, 51, murdered his wife Maureen, 42, after a row at their home in Surrey nearly 10 years ago, a jury was told. After killing her on 22 June 1999, Mr Hale borrowed a shovel and a car from a work colleague and also offered another friend, who ran a pet cemetery, £20,000 to hire the incinerator, it is alleged.

When police searched Mr Hale, who claims that his wife simply walked out of their home in Thames Ditton never to be seen again, they found a letter in his briefcase with a list, numbered from one to four, which read: "At sea, by fire, by acid, landsite," Kingston Crown Court was told.

Despite Mrs Hale's body never having being found, Crispin Aylett QC, for the prosecution, said that Mr Hale, who denies murder, was the killer: "He is as guilty of her murder as if he had been caught red-handed."

Mr Aylett said the couple had been going through a difficult time leading up to Mrs Hale's disappearance. She complained to a friend that her husband, who ran a fruit and vegetable business, was a workaholic, who would often return home drunk. She had also become involved in a relationship with a gardener.

Mr Aylett said it was the prosecution's case that Mr Hale had killed his wife after an argument and, in the days after, had taken a shovel from work and swapped cars with a colleague as part of efforts to dispose of her body.

The case continues.