Iain Lawrence jailed for murdering wife Sally Lawrence

Sally Marie Lawrence
Image caption Mother-of-three Sally Marie Lawrence died in the crash in Oadby

A former pilot has been given a life sentence for murdering his estranged wife by crashing his car into a tree after the passenger airbag had been disabled.

Leicester Crown Court heard Iain Lawrence, 53, had argued with Sally Lawrence about finances in their upcoming divorce.

Lawrence, of Ratcliffe Road, Leicester, had denied the murder.

He was told he would serve at least 24 years in jail.

'Trickery or force'

Judge Justice Leggatt told Lawrence he had committed a "vile crime" and robbed his 10-year-old son of his mother.

"How you got Sally into your car, whether by trickery or force, no-one but you can know. I suspect it was a combination of the two.

"However you achieved it, she cannot have imagined what you were planning to do next," he said.

The former commercial pilot crashed his Peugeot 406 car in Gartree Road, Oadby, Leicestershire, on 6 October.

The court heard he had adopted the brace position in the crash and was not seriously injured.

PC Tim O'Donnell said he found the crashed car still in fifth gear with the speedometer stuck at 52 mph (84km/h).

The trial heard Mrs Lawrence, 47, was killed almost immediately because her airbag did not work, but her husband's did.

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Media captionSally Lawrence had previously told friends and family that her husband had "evil in his eyes" and she was scared of what he might do

'Full-blown spasm'

Retired firefighter Peter Hawkins, who was one of the first people to arrive at the crash scene, told jurors that Lawrence looked like he was squeezing his eyes shut, pretending to be unconscious.

During the trial, Lawrence said his leg had gone into "full blown" spasm at the time of the crash, sending an "excruciating" pain down to his toes.

Asked why he did not try to brake, he said his left leg had also gone numb.

The court was told Mrs Lawrence's seatbelt had been unclipped before the crash and an airbag had been disabled.

Mrs Lawrence had often told relatives and friends that she was scared of her estranged husband, the court heard.

The jury was told that police later found her car unlocked on the drive of the house with her handbag and overnight bag inside.

After the hearing, Mrs Lawrence's sister Catherine Kudhail said: "Our family is here today because of the cruel, callous, evil and sickening act of murder against our beautiful Sally.

"On the day Sally died, a part of us died with her.

"She was an inspirational, caring, kind young woman with a huge heart. She was so full of life."

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