William Taylor: Wife and lover guilty of farmer's murder

Image source, Hertfordshire Police
Image caption,
Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon sent explicit text messages about killing her estranged husband William Taylor

The estranged wife of a wealthy farmer has been found guilty of murdering him.

Angela Taylor and her partner Paul Cannon shared "a venomous hatred" for William Taylor as he would not divorce her, St Albans Crown Court heard.

The 69-year-old's skeletal remains were found waist-deep in mud by a passing fisherman near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in February, eight months after he was reported missing.

Taylor and Cannon were both convicted of murder and arson.

The pair will be sentenced on Friday and Judge Michael Kay QC told them: "There is only once sentence that can be passed and it will be a life sentence."

Gwyn Griffiths, 60, who was a colleague of Cannon and from Folkestone, Kent, was cleared of conspiracy to murder.

Mr Taylor was reported missing by his lodger on 4 June 2018. Several days before he went missing his Land Rover was set on fire.

DNA found in the torched car matched that of Cannon.

Image source, South Beds News Agency
Image caption,
William Taylor was reported missing by his lodger on 4 June

Taylor, 53, and Cannon, 54, fantasised about killing Mr Taylor, who was known as Bill, in explicit messages sent to each other on WhatsApp, their trial heard.

Messages read in court spoke about "the best way" to kill the farmer and hurt his family. They included references to pickaxes, chainsaws and barbed wire.

Various scenarios were discussed in the messages and Taylor described them as "a turn-on".

On the night Mr Taylor disappeared, Cannon sent a message which said: "Just watching Kill Bill 2 lol."

Cannon told police officers: "Messages between Angela and me related to no more than fantasy and banter of an extreme nature."

Angela Taylor said she had sent the messages "out of frustration" as Mr Taylor was "getting on her nerves".

Earlier in the trial, prosecutor John Price QC said: "It will become apparent that he and she shared and encouraged in each other in a venomous hatred for William Taylor. They loathed him."

Image source, South Beds News Agency

Experts told the court that it was impossible to determine a cause of death because Mr Taylor's body was so badly decomposed.

The farmer was still wearing his boots and blue overalls when his remains were found.

The defence argued Mr Taylor probably died after getting "stuck in mud" and might have gone to the area for a picnic.

Forensic pathologist Dr Charlotte Randall said there was no sign of blunt force injuries, no gunshot or stab wounds and no evidence of toxic substances.

But the court heard there was a "possible fracture" to the hyoid bone in the neck, which could have been due to compression.

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