Dorset

Rui Li murder: Pierre Legris jailed for life for killing second wife

Pierre Legris Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Pierre Legris admitted to bigamy at a previous hearing as he was married to Irene Smith and Rui Li at the same time

A bigamist has been jailed for life after murdering his second wife and hiding her body in a car boot.

Pierre Legris, 61, bludgeoned Rui Li, to death at their home in May 2014.

Winchester Crown Court heard the couple were swingers who ran a "sexual massage" service and the murder was financially motivated. Legris was given a 25-year minimum term.

Legris's racing driver son Jonathan, 27, and other wife Irene Smith, 66, were acquitted of conspiracy to murder.

Jonathan Legris, of Spring Road, Bournemouth - who was a contemporary of Lewis Hamilton during the early stages of their careers - was sentenced to two years in jail after he was found guilty of assisting an offender.

Smith, 66, was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of assisting an offender and perverting the course of justice.

Before the start of the trial, French national Legris admitted an offence of bigamy in marrying Ms Li in 2007, despite being married to Smith since 1987.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Rui Li's body was found in the boot of a car

The jury heard how Legris killed his second wife at their home in Burnham Drive, Bournemouth, as his finances were "desperate" and he wanted to cash in on her £300,000 life insurance policy.

Ms Li, 44, was last seen leaving Poole Hospital in her Porsche Boxster where she worked as a nurse, on 23 May last year.

The court heard Legris killed Ms Li at their home later that evening with forceful blows to the head, probably using a heavy implement.

He wrapped her body in a plastic sheet and stored it in the back of a transit van.

The judge, Mr Justice Dingemans said: "There was a clear intention to kill."

'Showed no emotion'

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Irene Smith and her son Jonathan Legris were found not guilty of conspiracy to murder

The body was left in the van over the bank holiday weekend while he ate Sunday lunch with his family and went to a dance show in Watford arm-in-arm with Smith.

Legris only reported his second wife missing on on 27 May at Bournemouth police station.

The same day the bigamist moved Ms Li's body into the boot of a Fiat Punto, owned by Jonathan Legris.

Jonathan drove the Punto containing his stepmother's body to Verwood Crescent in Bournemouth.

Her body was discovered on 30 May and a post-mortem examination showed she died of a significant head injury.

Legris claimed he had discovered Ms Li's body at their home and tried to hide it after he panicked.

Ms Li and Legris, who was also known as Alain Baron, ran a massage service and "on occasion provided sexual services".

Legris said in defence the killer could have been somebody the couple met through massage or swinging.

On the night of the murder, he claimed he had spent the evening watching EastEnders with Smith.

When he reported Ms Li missing four days after she had last been seen, the court heard he "showed no emotion" to police.

'Hugely missed'

During the trial, Ms Li's daughter from a previous marriage, Lu Yao, said her mother had given her a will she had written.

Ms Yao told police her mother was concerned she might be pushed off a mountain during one of the regular climbing trips she took with her husband.

Smith, of St Clement's Road, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice as she provided a false alibi to Legris on the night of the murder.

The jury also found her guilty of assisting an offender by hiring a storage facility and placing her husband's clothes and French passport in it.

Jonathan Legris was found guilty of assisting an offender as he drove the Fiat containing Ms Li's body to a car park in Christchurch.

Image caption Ms Li's body was found in the boot of a car near Hengistbury Head

Rui Li's daughter Lu Yao said: "My mum was a wonderful person, a great teacher and the perfect mother to me.

"I have and will always love and respect her unconditionally.

"She will always be in my heart and she is missed every day.

"She worked hard all her life to provide for me, ensuring that I had the best possible upbringing."

'Killed out of greed'

A statement from Ms Li's colleagues at Poole Hospital said: "Rui was very conscientious, reliable and had a great attitude to her work.

"She was well respected by colleagues and patients alike, and is hugely missed as a valuable part of the family on the ward."

Det Insp Marcus Hester, of Dorset Police's major crime investigation team, said: "Pierre Legris killed Rui Li out of greed, placed her body in the boot of a van before driving to Watford to enjoy a weekend with his first wife Irene Smith.

"He lied repeatedly to the police and went to great efforts to hide her body."

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