Gosmore farmer whose body was found on a riverbank ‘got estranged wife’s lover sacked from his job’
PUBLISHED: 18:24 18 September 2019
A wealthy farmer from Gosmore whose body was found on a secluded riverbank on the edge of Hitchin got his estranged wife’s lover sacked from his job, a murder trial jury heard this week.
William 'Bill' Taylor had confronted digger driver Paul Cannon about the affair with his wife Angela Taylor and was told: "Put up or shut up."
The 69-year-old farmer then went to a quarry where Mr Cannon was working and told his boss what was going on, St Albans Crown Court heard on Monday.
Bill's son from his first marriage, Richard Taylor, said: "My father put across what had gone on and, from what my father told me, he got him the sack."
He said when Bill had confronted his wife Angela about the affair, she denied it. After he found out, he said he was "massively affected".
Asked to describe how the news of the affair affected his father, he said: "Disbelief, sadness, anger."
Ms Taylor, 53, of Charlton Road in Charlton, Mr Cannon, 54, of Pirton Road, Hitchin, and his work colleague Gwyn Griffiths, 60, of Lucy Avenue, Folkestone, deny murder on or about June 4 last year and an alternative, lesser, charge of conspiracy to murder between February 12 and June 5, 2018.
Ms Taylor and Mr Cannon also deny arson of the farmer's Land Rover at Bill's address at Harkness Hall in Gosmore, Hitchin, between May 25 and May 28 last year.
Eight days later, on June 4 last year, Bill was reported missing. His body was found by a fisherman eight months later on February 10 this year on a bank of the River Hiz, on the edge of Hitchin, two miles from Harkness Hall.
The jury has heard a series of lurid WhatApp messages uncovered by the police in which the couple fantasied about making love in Bill's blood.
In one message, Paul Cannon wrote: "Just watching Kill Bill 2 lol."
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Angela Taylor replied: "One would be nice."
The lovers are said to have had a "venomous hatred" for Bill Taylor because he would not divorce her.
The jury has been told Angela and Bill had agreed in August 2015 to a 'deed of separation' which involved her acquiring, debt-free, the neighbouring Mill Farm, Dog Kennel Farm and 200 acres of land.
Bill and Richard Taylor had taken out a loan of £1 million to clear all the debts on Harkness Hall and Angela's two farms, but the relationship between father and son was strained partly because Angela still had access to the joint business account.
Richard Taylor, who is a farmer and who also runs a coach business, gave evidence to the jury behind a screen. He told the jury that money he had put into the joint bank account had been "stolen" by Angela Taylor.
At a pheasant shoot in November 2015 the police were called after a row between Bill and one of his daughters in front of around 40 guests. It led to Richard having no contact with Bill for two and a half years.
In April last year he said his father came to find him when he was walking the dog with his daughters. "His sister had put pressure on him to find me. He was very down, very sad. His family had broken down and he had got no one. He was in a very low ebb."
Asked by prosecutor John Price QC how he looked, he replied: "Drained, frail, weak, sad."
After then he said Bill would visit his coach offices every day.
The married father-of-four told the jury he had not seen his own mother since he was 11 and had been brought up since then by his father. He said his father inherited farms in the area from his parents who had bought them in the 1960s.
He said came to know Angela in 1991 and she moved into Harkness Hall with his father after he had left there in about 1993. Asked to described his relationship with Angela, Richard said: "Bad."
His father had asked him to go to his wedding to Angela, but he did not go.
The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, continues.