A police inspector who strangled his wife and dumped her body in a lake after she discovered he had applied for a loan in her name has been found guilty of murder.
Darren McKie, 43, admitted the manslaughter of Detective Constable Leanne McKie, nine days into his trial at Chester Crown Court, but yesterday a jury found him guilty of murder.
Her body was found in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on 29 September last year.
In a statement, her parents Ray and Ellen Dodd said: “Justice has been served today. Our lives will never be the same again. There are no winners in this trial. We have lost our beautiful daughter and our grandchildren have lost their beloved mummy.”
The court heard friends described the couple, who had three children, as the “perfect family” but they were more than £115,000 in debt and McKie had been applying for loans in his and his wife’s names.
The jury was told they had spent £63,000 on renovations to their four-bedroom home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in the months leading up to her death, including £3,500 on a granite kitchen worktop, and went on a £4,500 holiday to Portugal that summer.
Mrs McKie, who had an Instagram account documenting the house’s transformation, was apparently unaware of the debt.
On the morning of her death she was at home when her passport and salary details, accessed from the police system by her husband, were returned after being used in an application for a £54,000 loan.
The court heard she sent text messages to her husband calling him a “liar” and asking: “Are we in such a mess?”
McKie left work early and returned home, arriving at the house in Burford Close by midday. Ten minutes later he took a call from a surveyor due to value the house later that day.
Mrs McKie’s car, a red Mini Countryman, was seen being driven away from the property shortly after and when surveyor Anthony Parker arrived, at about 1pm, he saw McKie walking back to the house.
The prosecution alleged Mrs McKie’s body was in the boot of the car when it was driven a short distance away.
Mr Parker described McKie as “perfectly normal” and parents saw him laughing as he picked his children up from school later that day.
At 10.30pm, once the children were in bed, McKie left the property and the Mini was picked up by CCTV and automatic number plate recognition cameras driving towards Mobberley, where police later found Mrs McKie’s phone, and then Poynton, where it was discovered the following morning.
In the early hours of the morning McKie was spotted twice by officers on patrol in the area and on the second occasion he was wearing no shoes. The court heard his trainers were later found in a wheelie bin with traces of his wife’s blood on.
At 3.45am the body of Mrs McKie was found in the lake in Poynton Park.
Pathologist Brian Rodgers said she had been strangled, with force equivalent to a karate chop, for a period of a minute or more.
McKie was arrested at 5am that day but in interviews denied any knowledge of her death, only admitting her killing six months later when he changed his plea moments before he was due to give evidence in his trial.