Wife murderer had shooting conviction

Matthew Cooper,Pa
Thursday 24 February 2011 16:32 GMT

A retired American millionaire convicted of murdering his British wife in a frenzied knife attack had gunned down an unarmed man in the United States in 1994, a court heard today.

A jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court, which had not been told of Harold Landry's previous conviction, took less than four hours to unanimously convict the 65-year-old of murdering Lucy Landry as he battled to stop her benefiting from their impending divorce.

After the guilty verdict was returned, jurors were informed that Landry had been convicted of aggravated battery but cleared of attempted murder in Louisiana in October 1994.

It emerged that he was given a suspended sentence for the earlier shooting, which saw him use a handgun to shoot the husband of a married woman he had formed a relationship with.

Landry, who told his seven-day murder trial that he could not remember inflicting 23 stab wounds on his wife at their home near Pershore, Worcestershire, will be sentenced tomorrow.

A jury of eight women and four men heard seven days of evidence about the death of Mrs Landry, who was left to die in a hedge beside her three-storey home on the upmarket Besford Court estate late on February 1 last year.

Her husband's trial was told she had begun an affair with a school friend she had resumed contact with on Facebook as her marriage to Landry "soured".

Landry did not dispute that he had killed his 38-year-old wife, but claimed he was guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter by reason of provocation.

But prosecutor Rachel Brand QC told the jury that shortly before the killing, Landry informed a neighbour that he did not want to give his wife money and had also changed his will.

Miss Brand told the jury: "The defendant had bars of silver stacked up in the kitchen and he had told (the neighbour) that he was going to get rid of them."

During the trial, it also emerged that Landry - who made his fortune after founding a firm which designed cranes for oil rigs - met his eventual victim in an internet chatroom.

Explaining how the American businessman - who was rich enough not to have to work - came to move to Britain, Miss Brand told the jury that his romance with Lucy "blossomed" after he travelled to the UK to meet her.

The couple then married but by August 2009 their relationship had broken down and Mrs Landry began an affair.

Detailing events in the months leading up to Mrs Landry's death, Miss Brand told the court: "Pretty quickly, she told her husband (about the new relationship) and not long after that divorce proceedings were begun."

In the months that followed, the Landrys were living in separate bedrooms at their matrimonial home, and the defendant also began a relationship with a woman who lived nearby.

After the murder, Landry, who is originally from Louisiana, drove to his new partner's cottage to tell her "something awful" had happened.

When he arrived at the property, the court heard, Landry gave his new partner three banker's drafts for a total of £30,000, a bundle of cash, as well as the keys to his car and several signed blank cheques.

He subsequently set off to walk back to his home but was arrested by police in a country lane.

Speaking after the trial, Detective Sergeant Natalie Jones, of West Mercia Police, offered her sympathies to the family of Mrs Landry, who was originally from south Wales but had also lived in Coventry.

Ms Jones said: "Harold Landry's crime not only shocked the community in and around Besford Court, but the police officers and staff who dealt with the aftermath.

"Lucy was not the only victim of this crime. Her family are also victims who suffered and are still suffering now.

"Our thoughts are with them at this time as they have just had to endure a harrowing trial.

"However, we hope that today's result can offer some comfort and closure to them and justice for Lucy."

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