Sex-crazed farmer's wife, lover found guilty of her millionaire husband's murder
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London - A millionaire farmer’s wife and her lover were on Monday found guilty of his murder after exchanging warped messages about making love in the victim’s blood.
Sex-obsessed Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon wrote 28 000 lurid WhatsApp messages to each other over 148 days as they plotted the killing which was "fuelled by venom, hatred and greed".
They spoke about sending wealthy Bill Taylor, 69, "to hell" after tying him to a chair and forcing him to watch them have sex.
In further messages, they planned how to murder him – discussing weapons they could use and how much it would cost to hire a contract killer.
One message sent by Cannon two days before the farmer’s disappearance read: "I want to get rid of that poisonous ****...make love to you on his kitchen table... soaked in blood, with him tied to a chair so he had to watch. Then send him to hell."
Taylor replied: "Think that would kill him, last thing he saw was us making love xxxxxx." The lovers wrongly believed the messages were secure and could not be retrieved once deleted. When digger driver Cannon was arrested and handed his iPhone 6 to police, they uncovered 78 pages of sordid messages.
But Taylor and Cannon claimed they were nothing more than "meaningless fantasy".
They insisted sending the messages enhanced their lovemaking and helped them let off steam over their frustration at Mr Taylor’s refusal to grant his estranged wife a divorce. But the jury found the pair guilty of murdering the farmer who was devastated when he realised Taylor – his second wife – was cheating on him.
Mr Taylor vanished from his £1.2million house, Harkness Hall, in Gosmore, Hertfordshire, in June 2018. His badly-decomposed body was found propped upright in the River Hiz in Hitchin in February this year..
There were no obvious signs he had been attacked – no knife or gunshot wounds – and no water in his lungs, indicating he was dead before he ended up in the river.
But investigators found a fracture to a bone in Mr Taylor’s neck, raising the possibility of strangulation. The jury was told it was likely he had been smothered or suffocated.
Prosecutor John Price QC told St Albans Crown Court: "Certain ways of killing may leave little or no trace – smothering or suffocation with a plastic bag could cause unconsciousness and interference to breathing without leaving a specific autopsy finding."
Detectives believe the victim was lured from his house before being attacked then dumped into the river. The month before Mr Taylor disappeared, his Land Rover was set on fire. Cannon, whose DNA was found at the scene, was yesterday convicted of causing the blaze alongside Taylor. He had written to his lover shortly after the arson: "Darling, you light my fire. Xxxx."
Cannon’s explanation for sending the texts to Taylor was "she finds this stuff arousing...the sex becomes more intense."
Taylor told the jury: "They were quite meaningless messages. It was just talk that we had cooked up to vent.’ In another exchange, after Cannon described ‘****ing up’ Mr Taylor and his son Richard, he spoke of ‘making love with there (sic) blood running down the drain as they fight for their life". Taylor replied: "Too right…then full lovemaking."
Mr Price said the couple had a "venomous hatred" for the farmer.
He told the jury: "Is it then just an unfortunate coincidence that the man whom they hated, whose death they desired and planned to bring about in those messages, did in fact disappear during the time they were talking about making it happen?"
During the trial, the jury heard that Mr Taylor married Angela in 1997. They had three children together. By 2014, Taylor requested a divorce. She acquired two neighbouring farms debt-free and 200 acres of land near Hitchin as part of the financial settlement.
The deed of separation was financed with the help of a £1million loan. But the marriage limped on and, in court, Taylor claimed she was still sexually active with her husband in 2016. She met Cannon the following year. They embarked on the affair and Cannon lodged at Harkness Hall rent-free from late 2017 into 2018.
The pair began a vendetta against Mr Taylor when he continued to refuse his wife a divorce in the vain hope they could be reunited. Judge Michael Kay QC told Taylor and Cannon he would sentence them on Friday, warning them: "There is only one sentence that can be passed and it will be a life sentence."
Mr Taylor’s son Richard said: "This senseless act that has destroyed my family is finally coming to an end. It will never be truly over but we can now start to grieve knowing justice has been done."
Detective Chief Inspector Carl Foster said: ‘This was a needless murder of a defenceless father and grandfather fuelled by venom, hatred and greed.""