Gardener convicted of murdering expat lover in France
Gardener Jean-Louis Cayrou has been found guilty of the premeditated murder of his British expat lover Patricia Wilson at her rural French home in 2012.
Cayrou, 54, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing Mrs Wilson, 58, following the collapse of their relationship, after the jury deliberated for almost five hours at the Cour d'Assises de l'Aveyron in Rodez, south France.
Gasps were heard from members of his family as he received his sentence, which he has 10 days to appeal.
Mrs Wilson's mother, Jean Wilson, 84, said "justice has finally been done" following the verdict.
Cayrou is believed to have cut the electricity at Mrs Wilson's home near the village of Vabre-Tizac, in the Aveyron region of south-west France, after she returned from visiting her mother in England on August 17 2012.
He entered the property and killed Mrs Wilson, hitting her "very violently" at least twice and possibly with a weapon, general lawyer Manon Brignol said in her closing statement.
Cayrou, described as "dominating" and "unstable" by Ms Brignol, left a trail of blood through the isolated French house, leading down the steps outside, where he is believed to have loaded Mrs Wilson's body into his car.
His prints and DNA were found at the crime scene and traces of Mrs Wilson's blood were discovered in his car.
Mrs Wilson's body has never been found and Cayrou's refusal to disclose where he hid it has been condemned by the prosecution.
In a written statement released following the verdict, Mrs Wilson said the result was "tinged with sadness" - as she would still have to live without her "perfect daughter".
"When Patricia was so cruelly taken away from me I didn't just lose a daughter, but my best friend, my confidante and the person I would turn to when I was low," the statement read.
"She was the perfect daughter and when she died it broke my heart.
"To lose a child is a devastating experience, but to lose a child in this manner, through an act of extreme violence is indescribable.
"When her life was snatched away in such a brutal way, a large part of my own was taken away forever. Losing her was the biggest sadness of my life and has left a gap that can never be filled.
"I think about her and the terrible circumstances of her death every day. All I am left with are the fond memories of my loving daughter and the wonderful times we spent together. I will never forget her."
She added: "I am pleased that justice has finally been done and that Mr Cayrou has been found guilty of this horrific crime.
"But this verdict is tinged with sadness as I will always have to live without the daughter who I loved from the bottom of my heart."
Mrs Wilson was originally from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, before moving to France with her partner Donald Marcus in 2008.
Mr Marcus returned to England in the autumn of 2011 to receive medical treatment after developing the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Mrs Wilson, who was retired, then embarked on a relationship with her gardener, Cayrou, in the spring of 2012.
Her friend, Fiona McKinley, 61, told the court that Mrs Wilson was initially happy with Cayrou, but he "turned into a jealous, possessive person, who wanted her to himself" and their relationship deteriorated.
Ms Brignol said she believed Mrs Wilson considered Cayrou as a "sex friend" and "nothing more", and he could not accept the end of their relationship.
Mrs Wilson's death came just weeks after she told friends that Cayrou had broken into her house in the middle of the night, climbed onto her bed and attempted to suffocate her.
He was said to have told her: "I am doing this to show that you need a man in the house."
Kieran Mitchell, a lawyer from Slater and Gordon representing Jean Wilson, described Cayrou as "heartless" as he welcomed the verdict.
He said: "This was a brutal murder of an innocent woman whose only mistake was to have a brief relationship with the wrong man.
"Cayrou cruelly murdered her simply because she said she didn't want to be with him.
"Not content with cruelly taking her life, he disposed of her body so her family were unable to lay her to rest and then denied any part in the murder despite clear evidence of his guilt.
"He has put Patricia's mother Jean through an added ordeal of this criminal trial, showing how heartless and lacking in remorse he really is.
"I am grateful to the French court that justice has finally been done."
The court awarded 20,000 euros in compensation to both Jean Wilson and Mr Marcus for their ordeal and 8,000 euros each for legal fees.
Mr Marcus was also granted 11,400 euros compensation for the period during the investigation when could not use the French home he had shared with Mrs Wilson, 4,000 euros to clean it and replace the furniture, and 300 euros for a bailiff to assess the damage.