A CHEATING factory worker, his secret lover and her uncle were jailed for life yesterday for murdering a university graduate.
Rafal Nowak, 31, Anna Lagwinowicz, 32, and Tadevsz Dmytryszyn, 38, were convicted at Bristol Crown Court on Friday of murdering Catherine Wells-Burr, 23.
Mrs Justice Sharp imposed mandatory life sentences with minimum jail terms of 32 years on the three Polish nationals.
Ms Wells-Burr, a Bath Spa University graduate, died as a result of a plot driven by revenge, jealousy and greed. With her death, the three would secure a £123,000 life-assurance payout and a half-share of a £137,000 house in Chard, Somerset.
The murder followed months of secret meetings and phone calls between Nowak and Lagwinowicz, with Ms Wells-Burr oblivious to the love triangle.
Nowak and Lagwinowicz, who had been in a two-year relationship, met for sex and to discuss the plot on up to 87 occasions.
Nowak smothered his sleeping girlfriend, Ms Wells-Burr, with a pillow, before Lagwinowicz and Dmytryszyn, Nowak’s uncle, drove her body in her red Ford Focus to a beauty spot at Ashill.
They put Ms Wells-Burr in the driver’s seat and set fire to the car at 6am, 20 minutes after Nowak had clocked in to work at Numatic International.
The accused spent months leaving a false trail for detectives, creating fake profiles for Ms Wells-Burr on adult websites and sending texts to her phone from a supposed mystery lover.
Nowak, of Chard; Lagwinowicz, of Taunton; and Dmytryszyn, also of Taunton, were convicted following a seven-week trial.
Tattooed Nowak had wept in the witness box as he insisted he played no part in the death of his “true love”.
But he failed to provide the court with any other explanation for how his girlfriend could have died.
The father, who has a wife and teenage son in Poland, told the jury: “Everyone blames me for something that I never done.”
Lagwinowicz, who frequently laughed in the dock when Nowak suggested she had been responsible for the killing, refused to go into the witness box. Dmytryszyn also did not give evidence in his defence.
The three accused were each jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years. Mrs Justice Sharp told them the murder was “a dreadful, pitiless crime committed in cold blood in gross breach of trust”.
None of the three showed any emotion as sentence was passed. The judge told them: “You murdered a fine young woman with everything to live for for money.
“This was a murder with the expectation of gain. There were significant aggravating factors and no mitigation.”
Ms Wells-Burr’s family – who gave emotional victim impact statements to the court – wept as the sentences were passed.
The judge described how Ms Wells-Burr met Nowak as she worked on the production line at the Numatic factory in her summer holiday in 2010.
“I suspect even then her family had their reservations. But because they are decent and kind people and because they loved their daughter, they opened their hearts and home and treated the man she loved as a son.”
Ms Wells-Burr’s sister Leanne, 21, who also works in the Numatics factory, wept in the public gallery as her statement was read to the court. She described her as “my best friend”.
Her statement read: “She was so special to Mum, Dad and me. To think we have to try to carry on living without her is so hard. Catherine did nothing but love him.”