Robert Brown Murder Trial

47 year old Robert Brown from Winkfield in Berkshire has been found not guilty of murdering his millionairess wife.

The court heard the British Airways pilot bludgeoned millionairess Joanna Brown to death with a claw hammer in their family home, believing he had been "stitched up" by a prenuptial agreement.

As their two young children cowered in the playroom, he bundled her body into the boot of his car and later dumped it in a makeshift grave in Windsor Great Park.

During his eight-day trial at Reading Crown Court, the jury heard he had been consumed by anger and resentment during the course of his marriage.

When his wife, known as Jo, filed for a divorce, it set in motion three years of protracted legal wrangling.

Problems came to a head last year, when Brown, who was by then living with his French girlfriend Stephanie Bellemere, 41, drove to his wife's home to drop off their children following the half-term break.

He arrived at Tun Cottage armed with a claw hammer, jurors were told. There he hit Mrs Brown, 46, at least 14 times on the head.

He then wrapped Mrs Brown's body in plastic sheeting, placed a bin-liner over her head to "avoid leaving bloodstains'' and dumped her in the car.

Leaving the children at his home, Brown drove to Windsor Great Park where he had already buried a garden crate that would serve as his wife's coffin.

He was arrested the next day after police called to investigate Mrs Brown's disappearance discovered spots of blood on her drive and in the hallway of her mock-Tudor mansion.

The keen cross-country runner later confessed to her killing, leading officers directly to the secluded burial site.

In the "robust plastic crate'' - likened to those sold by DIY stores or garden centres - investigators found Mrs Brown bound with a strap and garden ties.

"The remote location of the grave, the advance preparation of it, and the collection together of materials needed to dispose of her body are, the prosecution say, clear indicators that the defendant had planned to murder his wife and dispose of her body in the park, intending that she never be found,'' Graham Reeds QC told jurors.

An archaeologist suggested the grave could have been dug a "matter of weeks earlier'', but Brown told police he had lowered the box into the earth as long ago as January 2009 as a symbolic gesture to bury the "sham'' of his marriage.

 Listen to the recording Robert Brown made to Thames Valley Police by clicking here

An examination of his wife's battered body - which was found on its side - revealed extensive fractures to the skull and facial bones, along with a brain injury from which she would have had no hope of recovering.

During interviews, Brown admitted killing his wife, from Ascot, Berkshire, claiming to have hit her with a hammer after an argument over schools.

He told police he had been suffering from "severe stress'' and an "abnormality of mental function'' which substantially impaired his self-control.

Today a jury at Reading Crown Court acquitted him of murder but convicted him of obstructing a coroner from holding an inquest.

Brown, of North Street, Winkfield, Berkshire, had already admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Hear what Detective Chief Inspector Steve Tolmie said to Heart after the verdict here


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