Wife and daughter take secret over murdered bookie to jail

A RETIRED tax inspector has been jailed for life for murdering her husband who disappeared without trace 11 years ago.

Shirley Banfield, 64, enlisted the help of their daughter Lynette, 40, to dispose of bookmaker Don Banfield, 63, and then pretend he was still alive.

Both women were given life sentences at the Old Bailey yesterday after being found guilty of murder.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Shirley Banfield was told she would serve at least 18 years while Lynette was given a 16-year minimum term.

A jury found them guilty by a 10-1 majority, after hearing evidence on how they killed Mr Banfield, who planned to start a new life without them, in order to get his retirement nest egg.

The pair, of Ashford Road, Canterbury, Kent, also pleaded guilty to charges involving plundering £64,000 from his pension funds by pretending he was still alive. They were jailed for 42 months each, concurrently to the life sentence, for the dishonesty and perverting justice.

The women were led away still keeping secret what they did with Mr Banfield’s body.

Kay Hackett, Mr Banfield’s sister, said in a statement to the court: “Years of not knowing where Don was and then discovering the people closest to him had done such a wicked thing was unimaginable. Most painful now is not knowing how he died or where his remains may be.”

She begged the women to allow the rest of the family to retrieve the body and ensure Mr Banfield would be “at peace at last”.

Mr Banfield had recently retired and planned to leave his unhappy marriage for a new life as soon as the family home in north west London was sold.

He suspected the two women of stealing his letters and of poisoning his food and had even recounted to a friend and a doctor waking up one night to find himself handcuffed. But the friend had thought he was involved “in a kinky scene” and on the day he signed the sale contract Mr Banfield had asked police not to take any action.

The court heard he had “signed his own death warrant” after completing the sale in May 2001.

It was the last time he was seen alive.

His wife and daughter kept Mr Banfield’s share of the £120,000 profit from the sale, telling police he had been a womaniser and a gambler and would go off if he had money.

Shirley Banfield gave police a false description of her husband, claiming he had shaved off his moustache and was now wearing glasses, while his dark hair had been dyed in a photograph and was now grey.

Officers had referred her to the Missing Persons Helpline where an age-enhanced image was generated with her help, and used for a poster.

Police treated Mr Banfield’s disappearance as a missing person case until 2009 when the investigation was re-opened after his former employer William Hill became suspicious.

His old house was forensically examined in October 2009, when the garden and garage floor were dug up but there was no sign of a body. The two women were arrested last year after inquiries in Britain, Trinidad and New York failed to find any proof Mr Banfield was still alive.

The women had moved to Whitby and then Kent to distance themselves from police following his death, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the court.