Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Rita Heyster jailed for Carol Jarvis murder cover-up

Rita Heyster
Image caption Rita Heyster was said in court to be "besotted" with Harry Jarvis

A woman convicted of helping her lover hide his murdered wife's body under the floorboards at a Lothian house has been jailed for four years and six months.

An earlier trial heard that Rita Heyster, who lived in her lover's shed in Bathgate, helped Harry Jarvis cover up the murder of his wife Carol.

Heyster was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Harry Jarvis, 61, is serving a life sentence after being convicted earlier this year of murdering his wife.

A judge ordered him to serve at least 15 years before he can apply for parole.

Mrs Jarvis' son, Kevin, 25, and student daughter Kimberley, 20, were in court.

Afterwards, Kevin said: "I don't have any feelings towards her. I don't know if I should.

"I don't know whether I should hate her but I have no connection with this woman, so I don't feel anything.

"I feel more for her family, to be honest with you. They have lost a mum, albeit in a different way."

Heyster, 57, who had come from a wealthy background but had fallen on hard times, was said to be "besotted" with Jarvis and has continued to visit him in prison.

Prosecutors said her devotion went as far as helping Jarvis hide the body of his 47-year-old wife.

Heyster also pretended to be Jarvis's wife when police called looking for the missing woman.

'Lack of compassion'

During Heyster's four-week trial, advocate depute Gary Allan QC, prosecuting, described Jarvis as "a manipulative monster".

Heyster was convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by helping her boyfriend to cover up the crime.

She was earlier cleared of murdering Mrs Jarvis.

Judge Lord Brailsford said the crime had the "pernicious" result of delaying the discovery of Mrs Jarvis' body.

He told Heyster: "This conduct plainly constitutes an attempt to defeat the ends of justice at the higher end of the scale of gravity of offences of this sort.

"This conduct did have a practical and pernicious result in that the delay in discovering the body of Carol Jarvis caused deterioration in the condition of the body."

Family suffering

Lord Brailsford said he was satisfied that Jarvis was a "devious and manipulative" person and that Heyster had been "unduly and harmfully influenced by him".

Det Insp Phil Gachagan, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "The length of sentence handed down to Rita Heyster reflects the serious nature of the part she played in attempting to disrupt the police investigation into Carol Jarvis's disappearance and murder.

"In helping Harry Jarvis conceal his wife's body under the floorboards, she showed a complete lack of compassion for Mrs Jarvis or the suffering her family would have to endure.

"It is my sincere hope that Carol Jarvis's loved ones take comfort from the sentence handed down today and can begin to move on with their lives.

"Rita Heyster, who was complicit in Harry Jarvis's manipulation and deceit, must now live with the consequences of her actions as she begins her term behind bars."

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