Manchester

Castle owner 'burnt wife's body' in France

Chateau de Fretay in Fougeres
Image caption It is alleged Robert and Joanne Hall had a drunken row before she died

A 55-year-old property tycoon is being questioned on suspicion of killing his wife after charred remains were found at their French chateau.

Robert Hall is in custody in France while police investigate claims his wife Joanne died during a drunken row at the Chateau de Fretay near Rennes.

He then allegedly burned her body and buried her ashes in a concrete tomb.

The father-of-three, originally from Manchester, appeared before magistrates on Monday and was remanded in custody.

The couple are believed to have moved to the region about a decade ago and rented out their property to tourists.

With 15 bedrooms, Chateau de Fretay in Fougeres is advertised on websites as featuring a nine-hole golf course, parkland, lakes and a go-karting circuit, and costs visitors more than £5,000 a week in high season.

'Mausoleum pact'

At the time of Mrs Hall's suspected death on Friday, the site was undergoing renovation work to build gites and a golf course.

Catherine Denis, from the prosecutor's office in Rennes, told a press conference that police responded to a call from the Hall family at the weekend.

"There was a drunken argument with his wife, during which she fell," she said.

According to Mrs Denis, Mr Hall spoke to police about building a mausoleum as part of a "pact" with his wife.

She added that the remains found at the house had not yet been formally identified.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are aware of an incident in France involving two British nationals.

"We have approached next of kin to offer consular assistance."

Related Internet links

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