Murder accused ‘was very close’ to his wife

A SHOPKEEPER accused of bludgeoning his postmistress wife to death told a jury yesterday he considered they had a “very, very close relationship”.

Robin Garbutt said his wife Diana had a stronger sexual drive than he but he had never suspected her of “actually having affairs with other men.”

He told his counsel Jamie Hill QC that getting up at 4am to run the shop or doing long hours in his previous job left him tired. “I know it is a poor excuse. I was always mindful and Di was mindful that we didn’t have sex probably regularly enough.”

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But he had told police they had no real issues in their relationship because in March last year “we had the best relationship, we were a loving couple. I miss her terribly,” he told Teesside Crown Court.

When they had time off from The Village Shop and Post Office in Melsonby, near Richmond they spent all their time together.

Garbutt, who denies murdering his 40-year-old wife Diana as she slept in their living quarters last March, told the jury he had not known she had a Badoo website homepage on which the jury has heard she showed the option “I want to meet with a guy aged 35-50”.

Garbutt said he was aware his wife went on Facebook and Friends Reunited using her maiden name. He told the jury he had met Diana through a friend when both of them were living in York. She worked for Group 4 as a security officer at magistrates’ and crown courts, while he was a managing director for a family business. They married after buying the post office and shop in 2003.

Questioned about his wife’s relationship with three other men, Garbutt said that having left a friend’s home after a night in York Diana was quiet and went on to confess to him she had kissed John Illingworth there when they ended up on a sofa together. She had not told him it went any further. Mr Illingworth has told the jury they were “intimate” but admitted the events were cloudy because both were drunk.

Garbutt said he discussed the kiss with his wife and both were upset talking about it but they had sorted it out.

He told the jury he was aware his wife went for cycle rides with villager Craig Hall in 2009. He knew now they had exchanged sexual banter on the internet as well but he said had he known about it at the time he would probably just have asked what was going on.

“I wouldn’t have put a lot of emphasis on it,” he said, because that was Diana’s cheeky nature.

After a visit to a cousin’s home where she had returned home late with her cousin’s husband Diana had decided to leave early because her cousin had been furious with her. Garbutt said he was rung by the man apologising for them having a kiss but Diana denied that had happened.

“The jury has also been told he had considerable debts, and an accounting analysis of the shop showed a profit of £4,124 for the year to March last year, which, with Mrs Garbutt’s monthly take-home salary of around £980, was their only source of income.

Garbutt agreed he had more than £30,000 owed on credit cards but said they always knew they had a “nest egg” in the business which had been valued at £450,000 leaving them a big equity.

The trial continues.