Wife and lover found guilty of murdering Gosmore farmer William Taylor
- Credit: Archant
The estranged wife of Gosmore farmer William ‘Bill’ Taylor has been found guilty of his murder, alongside her lover.
Angela Taylor and her lover Paul Cannon were convicted by the jury made up of eight women and four men at St Albans Crown Court today, who deliberated for two days following the eight-week trial.
Cannon's work colleague, Gwyn Griffiths, of Lucy Avenue in Folkestone, was also on trial alongside the pair for the lesser charge of conspiracy to murder and assisting offenders, and was found not guilty.
The court heard how Taylor, of Charlton Road in Charlton, and Cannon, of Pirton Road in Hitchin, plotted to kill the wealthy farmer after he refused to agree to a divorce.
William Taylor, 69, was reported missing from his farm in June 2018 and his body was found in the River Hiz in Charlton, just outside Hitchin, in February this year.
The relationship between Mr Taylor and his wife Angela, 53, had broken down some time before he disappeared.
Having separated in 2015, Mr Taylor refused to agree to a divorce with his estranged wife, who started a relationship with Cannon, 54, in late 2017.
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As a result, the court heard how Angela Taylor and her new partner harboured a bitter resentment towards the farmer and often intimidated him.
Just eight days before his disappearance, Cannon set fire to his Land Rover, leaving him feeling fearful and unsafe.
The jury heard how violent WhatsApp messages between the couple showed their hatred of Mr Taylor and they often expressed a desire for him to come to serious harm, ultimately making the decision to kill him.
In the days after Mr Taylor's disappearance extensive searches took place and, when his body was finally recovered earlier this year, pathology tests were unable to identify a precise cause of death.
The tests confirmed that he had died before he entered the water and, while no obvious injuries were found, there was a possible fracture at the top of Mr Taylor's neck.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Waller for the CPS said: "Angela Taylor and her partner plotted to kill Mr Taylor over several months, fuelled by hatred because he would not grant his estranged wife a divorce.
"While many who were close to Mr Taylor held out hope he would be found safe and well, Cannon and Taylor were already referring to him in the past tense in the days following his disappearance.
"Based on the wealth of evidence we presented in this case, the jury have today concluded that Cannon murdered Mr Taylor, encouraged by his estranged wife."
Phone, forensic and pathology evidence all formed part of the Crown Prosecution Service's case against the pair.
Cannon's DNA was found on a towel and a shirt that had been used to start the fire that damaged Mr Taylor's Land Rover just days before he disappeared.
A month after Mr Taylor was last seen, a bracelet that he never took off was found damaged in his farm yard.
The CPS presented the court with just under 1,500 WhatsApp messages recovered from Cannon's phone, a number of which expressed his and Angela Taylor's desire to see the farmer harmed.
Ms Waller added: "Mr Taylor's family have suffered a great deal of pain and anguish as a result of his wife and her partner's horrendous actions, and we hope this conviction can help to bring them some peace."
Taylor and Cannon will be sentenced on Friday.