England

Don Banfield murdered by wife and daughter

Don Banfield
Image caption Betting shop manager Don Banfield was 63 when he disappeared in 2001

The wife and daughter of a man who vanished more than 10 years ago have been found guilty of his murder.

Don Banfield, 63, was last seen leaving the family home in Wealdstone, north-west London, in May 2001.

Shirley Banfield, 64, and her daughter Lynette Banfield, 40, of Ashford Road, Canterbury, Kent, were convicted of his murder at the Old Bailey.

They both received life sentences, with a minimum term of 18 years for Shirley Banfield and 16 years for her daughter.

'Starting new life'

Following the sentences Mr Banfield's sister, Kay Hackett, said in a statement to the court: "Years of not knowing where Don was and then discovering the people closest to him had done such a wicked thing was unimaginable.

"Most painful now is not knowing how he died or where his remains may be. Without these answers, the pain will never subside."

The court was told Mr Banfield was murdered by his wife and daughter after he signed a contract to sell the family home, which resulted in a £120,000 profit.

Image caption Police said Shirley and Lynette Banfield's actions were driven by "pure greed"

Crispin Aylett QC, prosecuting, said: "When he signed the contract for the sale, he was unwittingly signing his own death warrant."

Mr Banfield disappeared shortly after he retired from running the Hampstead branch of bookmakers William Hill.

His son, Kevin Banfield, who works as an occupational therapist in Brighton, told the jury his father had spoken of starting a new life.

Mr Aylett said: "At the time, Don Banfield was obviously expecting to receive a large amount of money from the sale of the house.

"He also had his pension from William Hill to live on. He had decided to set up a new life for himself on his own.

"Shirley, on the other hand, perhaps faced a rather bleaker future. She was 54 and on the verge of being abandoned without money to re-house both herself and Lynette."

Image caption Police were tricked into issuing a picture of Don Banfield with grey hair

Mr Banfield's disappearance was treated as a missing person case until 2009 when his former employers became suspicious and the police investigation was reopened.

His wife and daughter had told officers Mr Banfield would often disappear when he had money and he was a womaniser and gambler.

Shirley Banfield claimed he had done a "Reggie Perrin" and faked his own death.

She also misled the police about her husband's appearance, saying his dark hair had been dyed in a photograph and was now grey.

An age-enhanced image of Mr Banfield with grey hair and without his moustache was then circulated by the Metropolitan Police.

The women claimed to have seen Mr Banfield in December 2008, but later admitted they had lied because they were fraudulently claiming his pension.

Garden dug up

The jury was told that before he disappeared Mr Banfield feared his wife was trying to poison his food and told a friend and his doctor that he had been handcuffed to the bed overnight.

In 2009 officers examined Mr Banfield's home, dug up the garden and the concrete floor in the garage, but his body was not discovered.

Shirley and Lynette Banfield were arrested in 2011 after inquiries in the UK, Trinidad, where Mr Banfield was born, and New York failed to find any evidence that he was still alive.

The pair denied murder but pleaded guilty to perverting justice, admitted conspiracy to defraud William Hill of £29,451 in pension payments and the forgery of a disability allowance application.

Shirley Banfield also pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining £34,382 of Mr Banfield's state pension.

Det Con Insp Howard Groves, of the Met Police, said: "Shirley and Lynette's actions were driven by pure greed, and the evidence to support this is overwhelming.

"They have consistently deceived the police and other agencies in a bid to cover their tracks and portray Mr Banfield as a gambling adulterer who walked out on them.

"Inquires into finding the body of Mr Banfield continue, so that one day he will be given the dignity he deserves to rest in peace."

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