Wednesday 11 May 2011

British Airways pilot killed his wealthy wife and buried her in Windsor Great Park

He believed their pre-nuptial agreement was a “stitch-up”, the jury was told.
He believed their prenuptial agreement was a “stitch-up”, the jury was told. Robert Brown, 47, smashed Joanna Brown around the head and face with a hammer or mallet at her £3 million mock-Tudor mansion in Ascot last October.
Once she was “incapacitated” he wrapped her body in plastic and bundled it into his car boot, Reading Crown Court heard.
She was buried in a grave which had already been dug, in a large plastic crate modified with plastic sheeting to prevent blood leaking out, Graham Reeds QC, prosecuting, told the jury.
Their two children, now aged 11 and nine, had been in a different room but saw blood on the carpet. It was their presence which would eventually “cause his plan to unravel”, it was claimed.

The couple’s eight-year marriage had irretrievably broken down in 2007 and divorce proceedings were “acrimonious and bitterly contested”, the jury heard.
A prenuptial agreement to protect her family wealth had caused her husband continuing resentment.
Mr Brown felt that he had been “cheated” and “manipulated” by his estranged wife who he believed was conducting divorce proceedings with “lies, exaggeration and aggression”, to leave him as little as possible.
During one day’s bitter exchange of text and email messages he called her a “self righteous, spoilt brat” and accused her of concealing the true extent of her wealth to spite him.
He said his wife’s finances had been “insulated” by her father’s trust fund and a loan from Coutts Bank, and accused her of an affair and of telling “lies” to a court over access arrangements.
At one point he told her: “Soon your world will fall apart. What goes around comes around.”
In July 2007 he threatened her with a knife, the court heard. Legal bills after three years were “huge” on each side, Mr Reeds said.
The final High Court hearing for financial applications had been due on November 8, a matter of days after Mrs Brown was killed.
“The difference between what the defendant wanted and what Jo’s lawyers had offered was considerable,” Mr Reeds said.
“He was concerned that when he had paid his bills he would be left with little or nothing from any settlement while, to his mind, she would remain wealthy.”
Mrs Brown, 46, known as Jo, had owned the family home, Tun Cottage, before she met her second husband.
But when they married, he ploughed £200,000 into the house which was extended and renovated and later used by Mrs Brown as an upmarket bed and breakfast.
According to the prenuptial agreement, he had no claim on the house or a trust fund set up by her father on his death in 2001.
“It was an agreement that the defendant referred to later as a ‘stitch up’,” Mr Reeds said.
The couple’s two children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had stayed with their father at his rented house in Winkfield, Berks, during October half term last year, the court heard.
He took them back to Tun Cottage on Sunday October 31 shortly before 4pm.
Mr Reeds told the court: “There, he attacked Jo with a weapon, hitting her about the head and face repeatedly until she collapsed.
“Such was the severe force used on her by the defendant that finally she was able to defend herself no more. She suffered extensive fractures to her skull and facial bones with attendant brain injury from which she had no prospect of surviving.”
Mr Brown dropped the children at his home, where his girlfriend was staying, and was not seen again until 5am.
After she told Mr Brown’s family that something had happened, he asked his brother not to call the police but Kenneth Brown did so and half an hour later, Robert Brown followed suit, reporting a “domestic argument” with his wife.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder when police officers found blood on the driveway at Tun Cottage.
Mr Brown initially refused to talk to police and said he had “a block”. A statement later handed to detectives by his solicitor suggested he had killed his wife accidentally, having “lost control” after a row over the children’s schooling.
He said he had intended to take her to hospital but realised she was dead and panicked. He later took police to the dense woodland where he had buried her.
Mr Brown denies murder and obstructing the coroner. The jury heard that he maintains that he was suffering mental illness caused by stress and that his judgement was impaired.