Devon

David Leeman jailed for killing wife Jennie

  • 13 July 2012
  • From the section Devon
David Leeman: Pic Devon and Cornwall Police
Leeman had wrongly claimed his wife's lover was a paedophile

A Devon businessman who shot dead his estranged wife after learning of her affair has been jailed for 12 years.

David Leeman, of Higher Cowley Farm, Parracombe, shot wife Jennie, 44, five times at close range in September 2011.

The 60-year-old, who had denied murder, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of loss of control at Exeter Crown Court.

Mr Justice Butterfield said he was "wholly unimpressed" with the evidence that Leeman had been affected by prescription medication he was taking.

'Terrible tragedy'

The court heard after the couple separated Mrs Leeman began an affair with 40-year-old Norman Laramy.

Leeman said he wanted to protect his four children from Mr Laramy as he believed he was a paedophile, although no evidence of sexual offending was found by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Leeman killed his wife on 18 September with a semi-automatic pistol he had kept illegally hidden for years in a secret compartment at their farm near Barnstaple in north Devon.

After the killing, he claimed he had done it after losing control because she refused to listen to his warnings about her new lover.

During sentencing, the judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, said Mrs Leeman's death was a "terrible tragedy" and a "precious life needlessly lost".

He said Leeman had become obsessed with his belief that Mr Laramy was a paedophile, but told him the basis of that belief was "flimsy in the extreme".

Jennie Leeman was shot five times at point blank range

He added that he did not accept evidence given during the trial that medication Leeman was taking had any effect on his behaviour.

He said: "You were not out of control when you recovered the gun, you were not out of control when you cleaned it and you were not out of control when you put it in your pocket.

"You took out the loaded gun and pointed it at her. You were not, in my judgment, out of control even though you were in a highly charged emotional state.

"But she laughed at you, and you did lose control, and pumped five bullets into her at point blank range."

Mr Butterfield said any degree of provocation from Mrs Leeman was low and she presented no threat, but the defendant acted out of "anger and frustration".

Jennie Leeman's family said earlier they were disappointed with the verdict, claiming that justice had not been done.

Leeman earlier admitted possessing the firearm. He was sentenced to an additional five years to run concurrently.

Mr Butterfield said that 296 days Leeman had already served would be taken into account, and he would spend half the sentence in prison before being released on licence.

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