Postmaster jailed over wife murder
A shopkeeper who bludgeoned his postmistress wife to death then blamed an armed robber has been jailed for life after a jury rejected his "ludicrous" story.
Softly-spoken Robin Garbutt's marriage to Diana, 40, seemed happy to outsiders, but he knew she had been unfaithful and feared his theft of thousands of pounds from the post office they ran was about to be discovered.
A jury at Teesside Crown Court rejected his story that a raider with a gun told him "don't do anything stupid, we've got your wife" before robbing him as he worked, and that moments later he discovered her body in bed in the living quarters of The Village Shop and Post Office in Melsonby, North Yorkshire, last March.
He was given a life prison sentence and will serve at least 20 years before parole can be considered.
Mr Justice Openshaw, sentencing, said Garbutt's version of events was a "ludicrous story from beginning to end". He added: "He has always accompanied his lies with sanctimonious protests of his love for her. By their verdict, the jury have exposed this as pure humbug."
The judge believed the murder was motivated by Garbutt's fear of being exposed for stealing from the Post Office. It was significant that his wife had been looking at the business accounts on the night he killed her, as she may have confronted him over the theft over months of thousands of pounds from the safe.
The court heard the couple had £30,000 credit card debts, yet still managed to pay for extravagant weekend breaks.
Garbutt, 45, planned the murder with a metal bar. "There was no struggle, she never awoke," the judge said. "He struck three savage blows, smashing her skull and causing her immediate death as clearly he intended."
Outside court, Mrs Garbutt's mother Agnes Gaylor said on Tuesday: "I am not thinking about Robin now. I'm not going to let Robin enter my head after today."
Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, who led the inquiry for North Yorkshire Police, said: "The murder of Diana - and the subsequent arrest and charge of Robin Garbutt - has caused a great deal of upset and distress to the residents of Melsonby."