Essex

Darren Byrne killed his wife after she found out about affair, court hears

Police at murder scene in Theydon Bois
Image caption Maria Byrne was discovered dead at the house in Morgan Crescent, Theydon Bois, in February

A man killed his wife and then took their dog out for a walk while he hoped their house would burn down with her inside, a court has heard.

Prosecutors said Darren Byrne, 40, struck Maria Byrne, 35, on the head at their home in Theydon Bois after she discovered he was having an affair.

The jury was told Mr Byrne doused his unconscious wife in white spirit and turned on the hob before going out.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, Mr Byrne denies murder and arson in February.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said former city trader Mr Byrne and his wife had a row on the morning of 13 February after she found he was continuing an affair with a married woman.

Mr Jackson said: "It's the prosecution case that the catalyst for this alleged murder was Maria Byrne's discovery for the second time of his alleged infidelity."

The court was told that after dousing his wife's body with the flammable liquid he went on a walk with the family dog. CCTV footage showed he was away for more than an hour.

'Making bacon sandwich'

Returning to find his plan had not worked, he concocted a charade, said the prosecutor.

He called the emergency services to say his wife was "burned" and told the operator: "The stove was on and the frying pan's on the other side of the room. She's not breathing."

Mr Byrne told paramedics his wife had been making him a bacon sandwich and when he returned home she was dead, the court heard.

A post-mortem examination identified white spirit on Mrs Byrne's clothing and a half-empty bottle of white spirit was found in the garage, the jury heard.

The couple had two children together who were not at home at the time of their mother's death.

The trial continues.

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