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15 December 2016, 17:26
A cheating husband who killed his wife at their home in Theydon Bois, after a row over his affair has been jailed for life.
Darren Byrne (40) assaulted Maria Byrne (34) during an argument back in February and then set their home in Morgan Crescent on fire, in an attempt to make it look like a cooking accident.
Byrne later rang 999, claiming he'd come home from walking their dog to find her on fire in the kitchen.
But he was arrested after a preliminary post mortem examination showed an accelerate had been used and that Maria had been assaulted or restrained.
CCTV footage also showed he had walked their dog an hour earlier than he'd claimed.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings said today: "On February 13, Byrne thought of no-one but himself.
"He told the court he had panicked. But that is absolutely no justification for what he did.
"He will now have plenty of time to reflect on his actions that day and the devastation he has caused to his own family and those who loved Maria.”
Maria’s mother Linda Biggs, speaking on behalf of the family including husband Chris, said: "Maria was our only child. She was beautiful, loving, loyal, kind, gentle and funny. She was everything to us, our whole world.
"Our world ended on February 13 this year when we were told by police that Maria was dead.
"I have lost the daughter of my dreams, my baby. Maria and I did everything together and we confided in each other.
"Our hearts are broken in two. One half is filled with rage towards Darren and the other is filled with the overwhelming love for Maria and her two boys.
"The boys were her life and she adored them, supporting everything they did.
"I can only hope that when they are adults, they will say that they had a wonderful childhood as they were surrounded by love from their family.
"This is all we wish for as we now dedicate the rest of our lives to Maria’s darling boys, for they are the most wonderful legacy and we see Maria in them every day.”