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, West Yorkshire, with the promise of work before repeatedly battering him and then burning his body on a bonfire.
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.
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 done you not 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.”
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.
Mrs Hay broke off the relationship in February this year.
Judge Benson said: “That was clearly a passionate affair on both sides but throughout your relationship that you had rekindled, Mrs Hay made clear that, while she reciprocated, she was not prepared to leave her husband and family.”
He added: “It is clear your passion for her was so intense you began to formulate a contingency plan to murder her husband John and dispose of his body.”
Bill told a work colleague of his plans to murder Mr Hay 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 made searches on the internet about buying and handling sulphuric acid.
Bill planned to murder Mr Hay and make it appear as though he had killed himself, visiting the Humber Bridge in East Yorkshire, where he spoke to a cafe owner about the practice of suicide from the bridge and the nature of tides and currents.
On March 13, Bill 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”, repeatedly battering him with such force it broke off part of his tooth.
He bound Mr Hay’s arms and legs with duct tape and placed his body inside a canvas builders’ bag before transporting it in a horse box to his secluded home in Upper Hagg Road, Thongsbridge, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.
He tried to clean up the blood using bleach and painted over some of the worst stains.
Bill dug a pit and built a bonfire several days before the murder and tended to the fire for 36 hours before disposing of the remains at a council-run tip.
During this time, he drove Mr Hay’s van to the Humber Bridge 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.
Judge Benson said Mrs Hay felt guilty for bringing Bill into the lives of her family but said she should not blame herself as she could not have foreseen what he would do.
“She must not, in any way, blame herself for that,” he said.
Mrs Hay released a statement yesterday after Bill was found guilty of her husband’s murder.
She said: “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.”
After today’s sentencing, Mrs Hay and her children said they were pleased it was over and they had at last got justice for Mr Hay.
Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Griffin, who led the investigation for West Yorkshire Police, said: “I am pleased with the sentence. I think it reflects the seriousness of the offence.
“The family are clearly devastated by the loss of John and now feel it is time to move on and pick up the pieces of their lives.
“He was much loved by his family and his colleagues he worked with at West Yorkshire Police.”
Ms Griffin said she was pleased Judge Benson had told Mrs Hay not to blame herself.
She said: “It will help on bringing some closure to Mrs Hay, who clearly played no part in this. I have every sympathy with the family, they deserve some peace now and to be able to move on.”