Cranog Jones, 44, was told by Judge Starforth Hill QC at Winchester Crown Court: 'This is one of the most serious offences in the calendar as you as a Justice of the Peace must know.'
The judge said the method Jones used to try to kill his wife, Margaret, 42, at their home in Brockhampton, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was ingenious, required preparation and had been well thought-out.
Parts of the device had been connected and assembled and he had tested the effect of exhaust fumes on a cat. He had then gone a long way towards covering his tracks including disposing of the apparatus.
'It was to be a death without any sign of physical injuries, capable of giving the appearance of suicide,' the judge said.
He added that Jones's motive was that he loved another woman, the divorce from his wife was not finalised and there was still the question of the matrimonial home and financial arrangements. 'Had you succeeded in your plan all that would have been plain sailing.'
The judge said he took into account Jones's previous exemplary character.
Jones, of Wymans Brook, Cheltenham, had shaken his head in disbelief when the jury returned its verdict on Thursday at the end of a week-long trial.
The magistrate, who remarried last year, constructed a home-made 'gas chamber' in the shape of a wooden box which was connected by piping to the exhaust of his wife's car outside. He had drilled a hole in the wall of the bedroom and the plan was to place the box over his wife's head like a diver's helmet as she slept in bed in December 1991. Jones would then have put her in the car, making her death appear to be suicide. Christopher Clark QC, for the prosecution, told the court: 'It would have been the perfect murder.'
Michael Parroy QC, for the defence, said Jones had spent his first night in jail segregated from other prisoners under Rule 43 because, as a magistrate, it was 'essential for his safety'.
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