Callous husband who planned to murder wife of 33 years

Bryan Donaldson leaving Leeds Crown Court
Bryan Donaldson leaving Leeds Crown Court
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Callous Donaldson tried to kill his wife of 33 years in 2003 by luring her into a cottage which he had booby-trapped with boxes of enormous fireworks bought for a display his family was to put on.

At that time the Donaldsons were running a caravan site near Crianlarich, Stirlingshire, after moving to Scotland from their family home in Rawdon, Leeds

The attack happened days before Bonfire Night of the that year after Mrs Donaldson had been persuaded to sign up to a £100,000 life insurance policy.

Donaldson spent ten months planning the murderous scheme while having an affair with a shop worker less than half his age.

Mrs Donaldson, who was injured in the attack, told a jury of the trance-like look of hate on her husband’s face as he tried to push her head towards an open fire and set off the fireworks.

The mother of three used a poker stand to eventually smash her way through a window. Donaldson drove away then came back to pretend to rescue her.

She suffered more than 30 injuries during the ordeal, including burns to her face, arm and knees, as well as large bruises.

Donaldson claimed that the supposed murder plot was “a set-up”. He said his wife was out to get revenge after discovering he was having an affair.

The jury found him guilty. The appeal centred on whether trial judge Lord Hardie misdirected the jury, but this was found to not be the case.

Mrs Donaldson went into hiding during the two-and-a-half year period that her husband was at liberty as she feared he would target her again.

He was released on bail without any condition not to approach his wife and was able to enjoy foreign holidays

Speaking at the time of his 2005 release, she said: “I felt sick when I heard he was getting out.

“I was only just beginning to get my life back together and now this.

“The thought of me possibly coming face-to-face with him horrifies me.

“If I saw him in the street I would just run as fast as I could. He was jailed for 12 years and yet here he is, a few months later, walking around. How many times do they have to find him guilty?”

“It’s a horrible feeling to discover my husband loved money more than he loved me.”

Recalling the moment her husband tried to kill her in a caravan by setting fire to fireworks and attempting to trap her inside.

“I was on the floor and he had his knee across me holding me down. He was lighting a taper in the fire.

“I remember seeing the flame. My hair got burned and I got really bad carpet burns on my face.

“He grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me across the floor. He reached into the box of fireworks and lit them. He must have taken some pressure off me. I don’t know how I managed to get up.”

Donaldson’s lengthy period of freedom came to an end in 2008 when judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that his conviction for attempted murder should stand.

Donaldson was led to the cells without a glance at wife, or his two grown-up sons and daughter who had given evidence against him at his original trial.

As they left court they expressed relief at the outcome.

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