On 5 September, Sandra Wignall, 48, led her husband into Sayes Wood, Addlestone, on the pretext of feeding foxes. She then distracted him with oral sex, allowing her lover, Terence Bewley, 43, and a friend, Harold Moult, 42, to creep up and stab and batter him to death.
To cries of relief and joy from Mr Wignall's relatives, who had sat in a public gallery at the Old Bailey throughout the four-week trial, all three were jailed for life. Superintendent Pat Crossan, who led the investigation, told the court that Bewley had previously been convicted of murder and robbery in 1972, and had served 10 years of a life sentence.
Timothy Langdale QC, for the prosecution, said Mr Wignall's murder was a crime of lust and greed. Mrs Wignall was obsessed with Bewley and stood to gain pounds 21,000 from her husband's life insurance policy, taken out the previous April.
Mrs Wignall had always maintained that three youths had pounced on her husband in an unprovoked attack. She told police and friends that she fled in terror when one of the alleged assailants made towards her. But when her brother, Philip Smith, visited her in Holloway prison after her arrest, he asked her what she knew about her husband's death. 'Well, I helped to arrange it,' she replied.
Bewley insisted that he was never in the woods and had nothing to do with the attack. Moult initially denied involvement, but after being charged with murder, confessed that he and Bewley had carried out the attack. As Mr Wignall and Bewley fought on the ground, Moult said he saw a knife and picked it up. 'I might have stabbed him, I am not sure. It seemed like a lifetime but it was only seconds.'
Moult also described burning his and Bewley's bloodstained clothes in the garden of his home at Ladywood, Birmingham. 'I don't know why I done it, it was a stupid argument that went wrong. It got out of hand,' he told police.
During the trial, the jury heard from Wignall's friends that she was bored with her marriage, telling one that she had rushed into it and that was the 'biggest mistake of my life'.
Andrew Trollope QC, Wignall's counsel, said: 'This extraordinary and tragic occurrence may not be capable of rational analysis or explanation. What prompted my client to embark on what the jury has found to be the case is both extraordinary and beyond ready discovery.'
Outside court, Supt Crossan described Wignall as 'cold and cunning', and expressed concern that Bewley had been freed only to kill again. In 1971, Bewley suffocated Lillian Shapero, a credit collector, after stealing pounds 73 from her. 'The first conviction was for robbery and murder for a small sum of money. Twenty years later he ends up killing again for what can only be described as a small sum of money.'
Debbie Philpott, Mr Wignall's daughter, told reporters: 'We're just glad it's all over.'
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