An estranged wife and her lover have been jailed for life for the murder of Hertfordshire farmer William “Bill” Taylor.
Angela Taylor, 53, and Paul Cannon, 54, were found guilty of murder and arson after an eight-week trial at St Albans Crown Court.
A judge sentenced each of them on Friday (8 November) to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 22 years for murder and two years for arson, which will run concurrently.
Mr Taylor, a 69-year-old farmer from Gosmore, near Hitchin, went missing from his home on 4 June 2018. His body was found by a passing fisherman in the River Hiz near Charlton Road, Hitchin, on 10 February.
He had been involved in agriculture all his life and had bought a large amount of land and local farms in Gosmore.
In 1992, he began a relationship with Ms Taylor. They married in 1997 but separated in 2015. A post-marital agreement split the estate, which was worth several million pounds.
During the trial, the jury heard that Ms Taylor met Mr Cannon in July 2017 and formed a relationship that Mr Taylor was suspicious of. By March 2018, she began divorce proceedings, against her husband’s wishes.
The jury heard that Ms Taylor and Mr Cannon had a “venomous hatred” for Mr Taylor. Despite him signing over considerable land and property to Ms Taylor, she felt this was not enough.
‘Kill Bill’ plot
When police examined Mr Cannon’s phone, they found WhatsApp messages making it clear that he and Ms Taylor had planned to murder Mr Taylor, potentially recruiting others to carry it out. The pair exchanged messages in which they openly spoke about a plot to “kill Bill”.
Two days before the farmer disappeared, Mr Cannon wrote to Ms Taylor: “Make love to you on his kitchen table… with him tied to a chair so he had to watch. Then send him to hell.”
Ms Taylor replied: “Think that would kill him, last thing he saw was us making love xxxxxx.”
The pair exchanged more than 28,000 messages over 148 days. Mr Cannon deleted the messages, but a police officer retrieved them from his phone’s memory.
About a week before he vanished, Mr Taylor had reported an allegation of arson to police after his Land Rover was set alight.
Hertfordshire Police released a video of Ms Taylor and Mr Cannon being questioned about Mr Taylor’s disappearance. In the video both stay silent except to say, “No comment”.
Speaking after sentencing, Det Chief Inspector Carl Foster, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “I hope that Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon’s time behind bars is spent reflecting on their evil actions.
“Bill was a well-loved father and grandfather and not long after he was reported missing, he should have been celebrating his 70th birthday with his loved ones.
“My thoughts remain with Bill’s family, who have acted with dignity throughout the investigation and trial. While nothing will end their pain, I hope that this sentence gives them peace of mind, knowing that Bill’s murderers are facing justice in prison.”