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Wife and her lover guilty of killing Hertfordshire farmer after he refused divorce

|News, Violent crime

An estranged wife and her lover who plotted to kill a wealthy farmer after he refused to agree to a divorce have today been found guilty of murder.

William ‘Bill’ Taylor, 69, was reported missing from his farm near Hitchin in June 2018 and his body was found in a river a few miles away in February this year.

The relationship between Mr Taylor and his wife, Angela Taylor, 53, had broken down some time before he disappeared. Although they separated in 2015, Mr Taylor refused to agree to a divorce, despite being asked twice by his wife, who started a relationship with Paul Cannon, 54, in late 2017.

As a result, Angela Taylor and her new partner harboured a bitter resentment towards the farmer and often intimidated him. Just eight days before his disappearance, Cannon set fire to his Land Rover, leaving him feeling fearful and unsafe.

The jury heard how violent Whatsapp messages between the couple showed their hatred of Mr Taylor and they often expressed a desire for him to come to serious harm, ultimately making the decision to kill Bill Taylor.

In the days after Mr Taylor’s disappearance extensive searches took place and when his body was finally recovered earlier this year, pathology tests were unable to identify a precise cause of death. The tests confirmed that he had died before he entered the water and while no obvious injuries were found, there was a possible fracture at the top of Mr Taylor’s neck.

Today at St Albans Crown Court, Angela Taylor, 53, and Paul Cannon, 54, were found guilty of killing Bill Taylor.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Waller for the CPS said: “Angela Taylor and her partner plotted over several months to kill Mr Taylor, fuelled by hatred because he would not grant his estranged wife a divorce.

“Whilst many who were close to Mr Taylor held out hope he would be found safe and well, Cannon and Taylor were already referring to him in the past tense in the days following his disappearance.

“Based on the wealth of evidence we presented in this case, the jury have today concluded that Cannon murdered Mr Taylor, encouraged by his estranged wife.”

Building the case

Phone, forensic and pathology evidence all formed part of the Crown Prosecution Service’s case against Taylor and Cannon.

Cannon’s DNA was found on a towel and a shirt that had been used to start the fire that damaged Mr Taylor’s Land Rover just days before he disappeared. A month after Mr Taylor was last seen, a bracelet that he never took off was found damaged in his farmyard.

The CPS presented the court with just under 1,500 Whatsapp messages recovered from Cannon’s phone, a number of which expressed his and Angela Taylor’s desire to see the farmer harmed.

Rebecca added: “Mr Taylor’s family have suffered a great deal of pain and anguish as a result of his wife and her partner’s horrendous actions, and we hope this conviction can help to bring them some peace.”

Notes to editors

  • Rebecca Waller is a senior crown prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern
  • Paul Timothy Cannon (DOB 1/3/1965) and Angela Taylor (DOB 1/8/1966) were convicted of murder and arson at St Albans Crown Court on Monday 4 November
  • The defendants will be sentenced on 8 November 2019.

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