Wife killer convicted for second time gets life term

A FORMER ambulanceman has been convicted for the second time of murdering his ex-wife in a brutal knife attack and is back behind bars serving a life sentence.

Derek Barron was first found guilty by a jury in 1995 of murdering his former wife Janet, whose body was found with 19 stab wounds at her Sheffield home in January the previous year.

Earlier this year that conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal after his defence claimed new evidence showed blood spray on Barron's clothing was consistent with his having performed mouth-mouth resuscitation and cardiac massage on finding the body as he claimed.

A retrial was ordered at which that was among the evidence presented to a new jury but yesterday at Leeds Crown Court, the eight woman and four man unanimously found Barron guilty again of his former wife's murder.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Holroyde told Barron, 59, he was satisfied he had planned and carried out the killing "quite brutally".

Evidence of the pathologist Professor Michael Green indicated he had probably taken her by surprise stabbing her violently, continued to stab her as she fell and as she lay on the floor.

"Having done so you set about as best your could creating for yourself a dishonest defence in the hope of avoiding the consequences and all that came at the end of a long period of following Janet, spying on her because of your obsessive jealousy, as in my judgment it has been rightly characterised."

The judge said if Barron was being sentenced for a similar offence committed today he would have received a much longer minimum sentence but legally because of the circumstances of the previous conviction and appeal, he was not entitled to pass a sentence of greater severity on him than he had previously received.

He would therefore be jailed for life with a minimum of 10 years 341 days, the tariff imposed when the case was re-assessed in 2006 following a change in the system.

The effect of that would be that he would return to prison serving life, credit would be given for the time already spent in custody, and as with other life cases he would be able to apply for Parole when the minimum period was served. He would remain on licence for the rest of his life after release.

The court heard from Barron's counsel Nicholas Atkinson QC he had already served longer than that minimum, but because he had never accepted the killing had never been approved for parole previously.

Before his successful appeal he had enhanced prisoner status because of his exemplary behaviour and was being allowed out of prison up to three days a week to work in a charity shop, pending consideration for release.

The prosecution claimed Barron was obsessively jealous of his ex-wife's relationship with another man, having shown jealousy when previous wives and partners moved on to new relationships.

He maintained he had found her body on January 20, 1994 when he called at her home in Sitwell Road, Sharrow, Sheffield and was attempting to resuscitate her when officers arrived.

In evidence, he told how he was working as a private hire car driver when he first met Janet, his third wife, as he drove her and two others home from a club.

He said on the next occasion he picked her up from a hotel he realised she was working as a prostitute but was attracted to her because of her looks and bubbly personality.

They later had a daughter, Suzanne, and married in 1988 but divorced in 1992. "I always thought we would get back together again eventually," he told the jury but denied he had ever said if he could not have her no one else could.

His daughter, who had supported him at court, wept after the guilty verdict was given.

Outside the court Detective Chief Inspector Andy Thompson said he was delighted at the result which indicated Barron was rightly convicted in 1995 of a brutal murder. "Derek Barron is back where he belongs. We consider he is a dangerous individual." He expressed sympathy for Barron's daughter who was only eight at the time of her mother's murder.