Lover found guilty of Swanwick car boot murder

Image caption,
Paula Poolton had been stabbed seven times

A man has been found guilty of murdering his lover and hiding her body in the boot of her car in Hampshire.

The body of Paula Poolton, 40, of Titchfield, Fareham, was found near Swanwick railway station on 28 October 2008, 11 days after she went missing.

Roger Kearney, 57, of Sarisbury Green near Southampton, had denied murder but was found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court.

The court had heard the pair were having an affair in the summer of 2008.

The judge, Mr Justice Silber, told Kearney he was facing a life sentence after the jury returned its verdict, after two days of deliberation.

He was remanded in custody until a hearing next week at the Old Bailey where the minimum term he will serve will be set.

In a joint statement Mrs Poolton's parents, Phil and Jenny Cross, and her husband said: "We are relieved that justice has been done for Paula today.

"It has been a very long road with many ups and downs but we are satisfied with the verdict."

Fabricated alibi

The pair had worked together as stewards at Southampton Football Club and Mrs Poolton's husband and Kearney's partner were unaware of their affair.

The court was told how Kearney stabbed her to death when she started putting pressure on him to leave his partner and then fabricated an alibi to cover his tracks.

Prosecuting, Nicholas Haggan QC said that Mrs Poolton had told friends she wanted to leave her husband Richard but Kearney was in fact "tiring" of the relationship.

Image caption,
Roger Kearney was having a secret affair with Mrs Poolton

Mr Haggan said on the day she disappeared Mrs Poolton told Carol Bertie she had been looking for a house to buy to move in with Kearney and was meeting him that night.

The jury was told she was prone to going on "benders" and her husband did not raise the alarm until a few days after she failed to return home on 17 October.

Police soon found out about the affair and questioned Kearney as a witness.

Mr Haggan said that significantly he referred to his lover in the past tense on several occasions.

The Royal Mail driver also lied about his whereabouts during a crucial hour after Mrs Poolton's Peugeot was last seen on CCTV.

'Love rat'

Kearney said he had left for a night shift at 2200 BST for the 15-minute drive to work when CCTV footage showed he left home at 2131 BST. He also lied about the route.

When he got home after work he washed all his clothing including his fluorescent jacket, jurors were told.

The prosecution said there was no forensic evidence to link Kearney, or anybody else, to the murder and nobody saw the accused kill Mrs Poolton.

Image caption,
Mrs Poolton used to be a steward at Southampton Football Club

However, Mr Haggan said a lengthy investigation had uncovered many pieces of evidence which showed he did carry out the murder.

Kearney's defence said he was wrongly accused, but admitted he was a "love rat" after cheating on his long-term partner.

Nigel Pascoe QC told the court Mrs Poolton's husband had had "more of a motive" to kill her.

Mr Pascoe said he was not accusing Mr Poolton of the crime, but told the court: "I simply point out if you were looking for a motive for murder, he would have more of a motive than the man I represent."

He went on to say the prosecution case had found "not one scrap of forensic evidence" linking Mr Kearney to the murder.

Mr Pascoe also drew the jury's attention to an unidentified paranoid schizophrenic man who had been in the area where Mrs Poolton's body was found and a report of the attempted abduction of a woman close to the murder scene.

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