A man who strangled his wife to death with his bare hands then left their baby in bed while he dumped her half-naked body in the woods has been jailed.
Matthew Fisher, 30, beat and strangled his wife of six years Abi, 29, at their home just six months after she gave birth to their daughter after undergoing three rounds of IVF.
He then lied to police and said he’d woke up to find she was missing and claimed she’d been upset the night before because she was due to return to work as a teacher.
But officers found his vehicle had been driven away from their home when he claimed to be asleep, his sentencing hearing was told today as he was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.
He eventually told a psychiatrist Abi had fallen down the stairs and when he went to check on her, he ‘lost it’ when she told him he wanted to leave him and smothered her with a t-shirt.
However, the court heard a pathologist didn’t find his admission accounted for the full spectrum of blunt force trauma injuries she suffered to her face, skull and abdomen.
Abi, a primary school teacher, was reported missing from her house in Castleford, West Yorks., at 10.27am on Saturday, July 9.
Her husband posted to Facebook just moments later: “Has anyone seen Abi? If you have can you please let me know or get her to give me a ring?”
Leeds Crown Court heard today (Thurs) that Fisher, who previously pleaded guilty to Abi’s murder, drove her dead body and dumped her in woods he played in as a child.
Her body was found in just her underwear in undergrowth near Brierley, South Yorks., more than 12 miles from their home in Castleford, West Yorks.
Prosecutor James Lake told the court that while Abi’s parents were at Fisher’s house, he was searching police and news sites to see if her body had been found.
Mr Lake said police also found searches on Abi’s phone including ‘why does my husband hate me?’ and ‘is marriage counselling available on the NHS?’He said Fisher’s car was seen on CCTV leaving Castleford after 4am on July 9 and was seen driving along the M62 before crossing into South Yorkshire.
It was then seen on CCTV returning at around 9.30am, about 50 minutes before he rang police to report her missing.
Although he’d turned his location settings off, signal from Fisher’s phone between 8.20am and 8.56am led police to an area in Brierley, South Yorks., the court heard.
Abi’s body was found partially covered in bushes near a layby and Fisher’s fingerprints were found on gaffer tape near her body.
Abi’s heartbroken mother Andrea Richardson, who insisted Fisher was present in court so she could address him, read out an emotional victim impact statement.
She told Fisher: “We treated you like a son and you lied to our faces.
“You listened to me saying I hoped she had postnatal depression as that could be treated.
“You sat there and said nothing, knowing you had killed my baby girl, dragged her through the undergrowth and dumped her in the woods where you played as a child.
“There were hundreds of police searching for Abi and teachers from her school were searching the fields, using the torches from their mobile phones for light.
“Everyone was desperately hoping to find out daughter and you knew she was dead.
“You did this to us, you killed our baby. She loved life, she loved you.
“I feel guilty every day that I could not protect her. You killed my baby girl, what the hell gave you the right to do that?
“Her death has changed our lives immeasurably. I miss my daughter so much it’s surreal. I feel like it isn’t happening. It’s some sort of bad dream.
“All sorts of things remind me of her. I don’t manage to get through a day without crying for her.”
Sentencing Fisher to life in prison Judge Tom Bayliss KC said Abi’s murder was aggravated by his ‘cruel and callous lies’ to her parents.
He said: “You, Matthew Fisher, killed your wife, the woman you loved and you left your little daughter without a parent to look after her.
“By your actions, you’ve taken one life and you’ve left the lives of countless others in tatters.”
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Inspector Amanda Wimbles, of West Yorkshire Police said: “Abi was someone who was loved by many, and this was a horrendous crime that understandably shocked and devastated the local community.
“Matthew Fisher’s actions that day have ensured that their young daughter will now grow up without either parent.
“I hope that the swift justice and custodial sentence that Matthew Fisher has been given provides some comfort to Abi’s family and friends as they continue to come to terms with their loss.”