A 63-YEAR-OLD man who cold-bloodedly murdered a former police officer in West Yorkshire and burned his body after becoming obsessed with his wife has been jailed for a minimum of 22 years.
Kenneth Bill lured builder John Hay to an industrial unit in Meltham, near Huddersfield, with the promise of work before repeatedly battering him and then burning his body on a bonfire while reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
Bill had been having an affair with Mr Hay’s wife Carol, and decided to murder the former traffic officer after she told him she would not leave her husband and ended their relationship.
He showed no emotion as he was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 22 years at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Judge Peter Benson said: “It seems to me that you were obsessed with Mrs Hay and you ruthlessly, in a detailed way, carried out this murder and then ruthlessly and cold-bloodedly disposed of your victim’s body.”
Judge Benson described Mr Hay, 61, as a hard-working family man who was a loving husband, father and grandfather.
“That man you had never met. He had not done you the slightest scrap of harm,” he told Bill.
“You were so keen to indulge your own emotions that you carried out this wicked murder. Not only did you murder him but, by disposing of his body in the cold-hearted way you did, you have robbed his family of the chance of giving him a decent burial.”
Judge Benson added Mrs Hay should not blame herself for bringing Bill into her life.
She said in a statement: “I am so relieved that justice has been done and Ken Bill has been found guilty of this horrific crime.
“Not only has he wrecked the lives of my family, robbing us of a most wonderful husband, father and grandad, he has also surely devastated his own family’s lives. The whole thing has been a terrible ordeal.”
Bill and Mrs Hay, 62, had a five-year relationship around 40 years ago and rekindled their affair after getting back in contact in October last year. But Mrs Hay broke off the relationship in February this year.
Bill told a work colleague of his plans to murder his love rival and also sent Mrs Hay a text message telling her she had three options: he would commit suicide, he would kill her husband or he would tell Mr Hay of their affair.
He subsequently made searches on the internet about buying and handling sulphuric acid, which he initially planned to use to dispose of the body.
Bill then plotted to make it appear as though Mr Hay had killed himself, visiting the Humber Bridge where he spoke to a café owner about the practice of suicide and the nature of tides and currents.
On March 13, he left messages for Mr Hay using the pseudonym Eric Johnson and disguising his voice by speaking with marbles in his mouth. He spoke to him the next day and told him he had some work for him and arranged to meet him.
Bill took Mr Hay to the unit in Meltham on March 15, bolted the door and carried out the murderous assault.
He then bound Mr Hay’s arms and legs with duct tape and placed his body inside a canvas builder’s bag before transporting it in a horse box to land next to his secluded home in Upper Hagg Road, Thongsbridge, Holmfirth, where he had dug a pit and built a bonfire several days before the murder.
He lit a fire over the body and tended it for 36 hours before bagging up and disposing of the remains at a council tip.
In the meantime, he had driven Mr Hay’s van to the Humber Bridge where he abandoned it and threw his mobile phone into the river before getting the train home and making himself a sandwich.
He was arrested on March 19 and repeatedly lied to the police, claiming he had never met Mr Hay before changing his story to say Mr Hay had accidentally fallen down some stairs and hit his head.
He was found guilty of murder by a jury on Thursday.