Sex-crazed wife who was stifled by kindness: Rhys Williams reports on the fatal attraction that led to murder

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The Independent Online
RIGHT up to the final seconds before his death, Robert Wignall never realised the truth about his wife - that she was bored with their marriage, that she had been unfaithful and that she had plotted his death.

When Sandra Wignall performed oral sex on her husband, she was merely providing a distraction. Seconds later, Terence Bewley and his friend Harold Moult leapt out from behind the bushes.

Wignall claimed that her husband was set upon by three youths in an unprovoked attack and that she fled in terror. Her story provoked outrage - that a couple could not even walk in woods was yet another sign of society's slip into lawlessness.

At first, Wignall played the grief-stricken widow, weeping during an episode of the television programme Crime Monthly. But as accounts of a blissfully married couple gained wider currency, several friends and neighbours came forward to cast doubt. When Bewley was named as Wignall's lover, police attention shifted. They had always been uneasy with Wignall's account of the evening. About two-thirds of murders are committed by someone close to the victim, nearly half by a member of the family.

But they were also suspicious of the 'astonishing detail' that she had provided to an artist about the youths. She had even managed in the darkness to identify a tiny insignia on the side of a pair of tracksuit bottoms.

Timothy Langdale QC, for the prosecution, labelled it a crime of 'lust and greed'. Wignall was obsessed with Bewley and would do anything to please him - even, according to friends, having sexual intercourse blindfolded with other men while he watched.

The jury was led down the familiar avenues of suburban life - whispered confidences between neighbours, tearful confessions to the hairdresser.

When Mr Langdale opened by describing Wignall as 'a woman for whom sex was all- important' and her husband as 'an honest, everyday, decent sort of bloke', it was clear her personal life was also being judged.

Following the death of her second husband in 1985, Wignall had a string of boyfriends. But it was Bewley, whom she met in 1989, who became 'the special object of her desire'.

Friends described how she enjoyed sex in the back of the Rolls-Royces that Bewley used to drive as a chauffeur, and how she went to meet him dressed only in a coat.

She lent him pounds 4,000, but despite her generosity, he refused to give her his address or telephone number - an omission that only fuelled her obsession. She met her husband in autumn 1990, while they were walking their dogs in the woods where Mr Wignall would one day meet his death. Both were widowed, both had nursed their partners through cancer. Both now brightened through their new friendship. Bob Wignall - who suffered severely from asthma - represented the constant companion that Bewley refused to be, and on Christmas Eve 1991 they married.

Within nine days, however, Wignall renewed her relationship with Bewley. He now talked of offering a 'normal relationship' and a life together, and they began to meet more often.

Wignall soon complained to friends of feeling stifled by her husband's constant attentions. 'He was kind and always asked her if she'd like a cup of tea, to put her feet up to have a rest. In fact, he did everything he could to make her happy and it bored her,' one said.

In the week before the attack, Mr Wignall confronted his wife about the mileage on her car, accusing her of having an affair. She denied it.

By then, however, his fate was probably sealed.

(Photographs omitted)