Wife and lover sentenced to life in prison for murdering Gosmore farmer William Taylor
PUBLISHED: 12:17 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:37 08 November 2019
The estranged wife of Gosmore farmer William 'Bill' Taylor and her lover have been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his murder.
Angela Taylor, 53, and Paul Cannon, 54, exchanged thousands of WhatsApp messages detailing their plot to kill William Taylor, 69, whose body was found in a river in February.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Kay cited the "toxic combination of jealousy, hatred and greed" which rendered the Taylor family unhappy, saying "there is an old adage which is peculiarly applicable to this case: money cannot buy you happiness".
William Taylor, his second wife Angela and his son Richard from his first marriage collectively and individually owned properties and farm land near Hitchin worth tens of millions of pounds.
Judge Michael Kay described how Angela and Richard Taylor "despised each other", and that William was torn between the warring sides of his family.
Angela Taylor began a sexual relationship with Paul Cannon in autumn 2017, which they tried to keep a secret from William. Angela deceitfully persuaded William to allow Cannon to live in his house, where Cannon secretly recorded conversations in which William spoke about her and her children.
In early 2018, William discovered the affair and the fact that Cannon had been recording conversations. He ceased contact with Angela, but then wrote her a love letter expressing his hope they could resume their relationship.
Judge Kay said: "Her response was duplicitous and calculating. It was not motivated by affection for William Taylor but insatiable greed.
"She said she would return to live with William Taylor if he signed over half his property to her. This was despite him having signed over property worth well in excess of £1,000,000 when they separated in 2015.
"The truth was that she hated William Taylor and she and Paul Cannon were already plotting to kill him."
In the WhatsApp messages, Taylor and Cannon laid out a "lurid and salacious" plot to murder William Taylor, which included "deranged sexual and violent imagery", including Angela Taylor claiming she wanted to "make love in the blood of their victims".
On the night of May 26, 2018, William Taylor's land rover was set alight in a barn at his property, and evidence showed that Paul Cannon started the fire with Angela Taylor's encouragement.
A week later, on June 3, William Taylor disappeared. His body was found eight months later on February 10, 2019, in the River Hiz in Charlton, just outside Hitchin - on land owned by Angela Taylor.
Judge Kay said: "Only Paul Cannon and Angela Taylor, and perhaps an unknown accomplice, know what happened that night or in the morning of June 4.
"The evidence suggests that, having been lured out of his house, William Taylor was attacked in the farmyard and killed there by means of strangulation or suffocation.
"His body was then taken to the spot where he was found deposited upright in the mud."
Paul Cannon deleted the WhatsApp messages from his phone in an attempt to conceal them from police, while Angela Taylor claimed her phone had disappeared.
The defendants also tried to pin the blame on Richard Taylor, which the judge described as a "calculated and insidious" plan.
Judge Kay said: "The prosecution do not suggest there was a clear financial motive for the murder of William Taylor.
"However the primary reason may have been simply the extent to which Angela Taylor, in particular, loathed the very sight of William Taylor and felt that she could never be rid of him."
Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon were given a minimum sentence of 22 years, including two years for arson.
As they have already served 343 days in custody, they will serve 21 years and 22 days in prison.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Waller said: "WIlliam Taylor was a much-loved father and grandfather whose life was so cruelly taken away by his estranged wife and her partner.
"Working with the police, we were able to build a strong case which proved Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon's guilt, and we hope the fact that both are now beginning life sentences will bring some comfort to Mr Taylor's family."