I would never hurt wife, says murder accused

A SHOPKEEPER who denies the murder of his postmistress wife wept in court as he told a jury he would never have hurt her and just wanted her back.

Robin Garbutt said he found his wife Diana dead on their bed after he had been robbed at gunpoint at Melsonby Post Office, near Richmond.

Speaking from the witness box at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, the 45-year-old described finding her body after an armed raid which took “no more than 20 seconds”.

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When the gunman had left with a holdall of cash, he went straight upstairs to his wife who was motionless on the bed. He said: “When I looked into the room I knew something was wrong. If you knew Di there was something about her, there was a spark there even when she was asleep, and it was just not there, I knew it was just not there.”

He said that inside he had known but did not want to accept it.

Asked by Jamie Hill QC, defending him, how he felt now, Garbutt sobbed: “All I want is Di back, that’s all I want. I miss her more now than I ever have and I just want her back.”

Garbutt denies murdering his 40-year-old wife on March 23 last year. The prosecution claims the robbery is a sham and he bludgeoned her to death with a metal bar under pressure of debts and her infidelity.

Garbutt described how he had opened the shop soon after 4am while his wife still slept upstairs and as far as he was concerned, it was just a normal Tuesday.

In new evidence he told the jury he had heard his wife twice call out his name while he was serving customers, but he agreed with Mr Hill he had never told that to police in interviews. He remembered it now “because of the situation that I’m in and I’ve been able to read and look at people’s statements”.

The first time, he said: “I just heard Di shout my name, which would be normal. I said, ‘Just a minute Di’.”

He told the jury he was serving a customer in the post office booth around 6.15 to 6.20am and he did not go to investigate what she wanted because he got distracted serving somebody else.

He told the jury he was in the post booth, having opened the safe after 8.35am, when he heard the door to the living quarters, which had a “creaking squeak” of its own, and assumed it was his wife.

But when he stepped out to look around the corner, he saw a figure in the doorway, wearing a black balaclava with eyeholes cut out and a slit for a mouth. The man had a gun in his right hand down by his side.

“He didn’t raise it, he didn’t threaten me with it.”

But he said the intruder told him: “Don’t do anything stupid, we have got your wife” and from that point he did everything he was told. “He said turn the lights off, lock the door. I just did these things straight away.”

Garbutt told the jury in a robbery in March 2009 two robbers had come into the shop and stole around £10,000. He said one of them in particular was “a frightening man”.

But on this occasion he did not feel the same because the gunman appeared younger and more nervous.

He was given a bag and put money from the safe and shop till into it and the robber then left. When he heard the back door close he went straight upstairs to see Diana.

When he went into the bedroom, he said, “I knew something was terribly wrong.”

He said Diana was “laid on her belly with her head in the pillow” and he immediately went to the living room to dial 999,

The trial continues next Monday.