London - A debt-laden police inspector strangled his detective wife after she caught him trying to take out secret loans in her name, a court heard on Monday.
Darren McKie killed wife Leanne, 39, on the day she discovered he had tried to secure £54 000.
The Greater Manchester Police officers were said to be under huge financial pressure with debts of £103 000. But despite previous assurances to his wife, 43-year-old McKie used their passports and obtained details of her earnings by "subterfuge" to apply for a loan.
Chester Crown Court heard he strangled her at home and later dumped her body in a lake about eight miles away.
Jurors were told McKie, his 39-year-old wife and their three young children were considered by friends to be "the perfect family". But their perilous finances meant they were living" well beyond their means". The inspector is once said to have made 15 loan applications in a day – with only one being successful.
On September 28 last year Mrs McKie found out her husband allegedly applied to lender Fluent Finance for £54 000. In an angry text to him at work, she wrote: "You liar. Just got back a loan application with my passport and my name. WTF."
Nicholas Power QC, prosecuting, said: "She sent another message saying, “I asked you and you promised. Fluent Finance? Who are they? Are we in such a mess? Why again? The kids need clothes and shoes, what’s going on”."
Mr Power said McKie ignored calls from his wife but sent a text saying, "I’m coming home."
Half an hour later his white Audi was filmed by CCTV approaching the £435 000 marital home in Wilmslow, Cheshire. He is accused of killing his wife soon afterwards.
The court was told how Mrs McKie’s red Mini Clubman was seen by a neighbour reversing down the driveway. McKie was later filmed on CCTV walking back home to meet a surveyor, who was assessing the house for the loan.
Mr Power said: "[They] went into the house. So did Mrs McKie’s phone, but there was no Mrs McKie." After dumping his wife’s body it is alleged McKie drove part of the way back in her car before abandoning it and continuing on foot.
That evening, after taking the children to activities, McKie is said to have returned to where he had parked the vehicle. Number plate recognition cameras tracked its journey to Poynton Lake.
McKie sent text messages to his wife – a detective constable in Greater Manchester’s serious sexual offences unit – in an attempt to cover his tracks, it is claimed. In one, he allegedly wrote: "You OK, how’s work? Girls are good... Love you."
At 9.20pm he sent a second text which read: "Hi, your dad texted me, they’ve not heard from you. You OK?... Worried now."
Jurors heard the McKies were "under considerable financial pressure". They had four credit cards, three loans and six financial agreements together with a £300 000 mortgage on their home. Most of the previous four years had been spent in debt, it was said.
Their woes continued despite both their parents giving them £80 000. A further £65 000 from the sale of their old home was largely used to pay debts. Mr Power said 26 mostly unsuccessful loan applications were made by McKie last summer as the family faced debts of £103 000. The court heard that in August, McKie secretly made unsuccessful applications to AA Loans. At the time, their builder was asking for £17 000 in unpaid bills for home renovations including marble worktops and underfloor heating.
Mrs McKie found out about the applications on September 6 after opening letters and texted: "Are we in a mess??? Please tell me!"
Her husband is said to have used "subterfuge" to obtain her P60 annual pay summary form for the Fluent Finance application.
He asked for her police computer login, saying he needed to retrieve an important email. The court heard McKie was stopped by a police patrol at 1.30am, hours after allegedly dumping his wife’s body. He told officers he was walking home but they spotted him again two miles away but without his shoes. McKie denies murder and manslaughter. The trial continues.