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William Taylor murder: Wife and lover jailed for life

image copyrightHertfordshire Police
image captionAngela Taylor and Paul Cannon sent explicit text messages about killing her estranged husband William Taylor

The estranged wife of a wealthy farmer and her partner have been jailed for life for his murder.

Angela Taylor and her partner Paul Cannon killed William Taylor, 69, whose body was found in a river near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in February - eight months after he was reported missing.

The pair shared "a venomous hatred" for Mr Taylor as he would not divorce his wife, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Judge Michael Kay QC said each must serve a minimum term of 22 years.

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 copyrightSouth Beds News Agency
image captionWilliam Taylor was reported missing by his lodger on 4 June

The couple had married in 1997 and separated in 2015. A post-marital agreement split the estate, which was worth several million pounds.

During the trial, the jury heard Angela Taylor met Paul Cannon in July 2017 and formed a relationship. In March 2018, she began divorce proceedings against Mr Taylor's wishes.

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.

image copyrightSouth Beds News Agency
image captionMr Taylor's remains were found in waist-deep mud on a riverbank

Mr Taylor's skeletal remains were found in the mud on the bank of the River Hiz.

The jury was told there was a "possible fracture" to the hyoid bone in the neck, which could have been due to compression.

Passing sentence, the judge said only Cannon, Taylor and "perhaps an unknown accomplice" knew what happened but the evidence suggested Mr Taylor "was attacked in his farmyard and killed there by means of strangulation or suffocation".

He added that although there was no suggestion Mrs Taylor was physically involved in the killing, it was evident she was the driving force.

'Jealousy and greed'

Judge Kay said William and Angela Taylor and his son from his first marriage, Richard, collectively and individually owned properties and farmland worth tens of millions of pounds.

"However, a toxic combination of jealousy, hatred and greed rendered all of them unhappy," he said.

"Angela Taylor and Richard Taylor despised each other. Both of them were suspicious of each other's intentions and roles in the life of William Taylor."

Judge Kay said Mr Taylor was caught in the middle and it was "evident that, at times, he was distraught about the situation".

"In particular, he loved Angela to the end, despite whatever she did to him and however much she did not deserve that love," he said.

After sentencing, Det Ch Insp Carl Foster, said he hoped their "time behind bars is spent reflecting on their evil actions".

"My thoughts remain with Bill's family, who have acted with dignity throughout the investigation and trial. While nothing will end their pain, I hope that this sentence gives them peace of mind, knowing that Bill's murderers are facing justice in prison."

Taylor and Cannon were also convicted of arson for which they were sentenced to two years, to run concurrently.

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