Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire housemate killer jailed for life

The area around the house was sealed off
Image caption The area around the house was sealed off by police

A man who murdered a housemate over a row about a woman and buried him in the garden in Hertfordshire has been jailed for life.

Richard Clare, 38, of Fern Dells, Hatfield, denied murdering Peter McConnell in March but was convicted by a jury at St Albans Crown Court.

He was told he must serve a minimum of 27 years.

The court heard Clare had cut 43-year-old Mr McConnell's throat, wrapped his body in parcel tape and buried him.

He told his lover Charlotte Whitcombe that Mr McConnell had left and they moved into the dead man's bedroom, the court was told.

Murder scene cleared

Ms Whitcome had told the court she had a "one-off" relationship with Mr McConnell but had begun seeing Clare.

Mr McConnell punched her in the face and pulled her hair and "tried to gouge my eyes out" when she told him on 21 March this year that she loved Clare, she said.

The court heard Clare arrived, accused Mr McConnell of being a bully, and later that day cut his throat.

Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said Clare then went to "extreme and elaborate lengths" to clear the murder scene.

The court heard that Clare was questioned by police when, 18 days later, another housemate was arrested for shoplifting and a remark was made about "Peter's murder".

The housemate had been in the house at the time and had been told by Clare to keep his mouth shut, the court heard.

Clare claimed he acted in self defence because Mr McConnell had gone to attack him with an axe, Ms Moore said.

Judge Stephen Gullick told him: "You literally cut the throat, severed his voice box in two and he bled to death in minutes."

He said that to secure his relationship with Ms Whitcombe, Clare had "had decided to eliminate Peter McConnell from the equation."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites