'Staircase fall' killer jailed
An unfaithful husband who threw his wife down a staircase and then smothered her after she found out about his affair with a teaching assistant has been jailed for at least 17 years.
Alan Evans, 35, showed no emotion as he was jailed for life at Worcester Crown Court after a judge described the murder of his wife Louise as a "callous" and deliberate killing.
Evans, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was unanimously convicted of murder by jurors earlier today following a five-week trial.
Passing sentence on the father of three, Mr Justice Hickinbottom condemned the welder for using a skipping rope and a vacuum cleaner as props in a "grotesque" attempt to pass the killing off as an accident.
Describing Evans' defence case as an "insensitive" charade which had caused unnecessary anguish to his wife's relatives, the judge told him: "We shall never know precisely what happened at your home that night.
"Only you will ever know that.
"However, we do know this - every life is precious. Louise was a devoted and loved mother, daughter, family member and friend."
Ruling that Evans hurled his wife down the 12-step flight of stairs after punching her four times, the judge added: "On all the evidence, I am sure that you killed her with the intention of killing her at the foot of the stairs by asphyxiating her.
"You did not go to her aid, you did not summon help."
The trial was told Evans conducted a secret four-month affair with family friend Amanda Chadwick, and chose to rekindle their relationship after killing his wife.
During his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said he believed Mrs Evans found an item on the night she was killed which exposed the affair.
The judge told Evans: "Your wife found something in the house that confirmed your relationship with Miss Chadwick had been sexual, or that you had maintained a conduit by which to contact her.
"It is clear she discovered something really shocking to her."
Evidence presented to jurors showed Mrs Evans was thrown down the stairs at around 11.30pm on July 9 last year, but an ambulance was not called for more than an hour.
The judge told Evans: "You spent part of that hour moving things in your house to make it appear as though your wife's death was an accident.
"You grotesquely put a skipping rope under your dead wife's arm and placed a vacuum cleaner at the top of the stairs, saying to the police and this court that you found the hose of that device two or three steps down.
"You maintained this charade that you knew nothing of her death and had slept through a terrible accident."
Jurors deliberated for four hours and 43 minutes before convicting Evans of killing his wife at their home in Stoney Lane.
Medical evidence heard by the jury proved Mrs Evans had suffered facial injuries in an assault before plunging down the stairs.
Other evidence also undermined her husband's account to police and the court, including testimony from those first on the scene, that rigor mortis had left the victim's right arm sticking up.
Neighbours also gave evidence for the prosecution, telling the jury they heard 32-year-old Mrs Evans screaming, heavy footsteps and then the sound of someone sobbing.
In the initial stages of his affair, Evans is known to have sent Ms Chadwick 6,700 text messages, while the 30-year-old texted him 5,350 times.
Evans, who was on bail before being charged with murder in February, recommenced the relationship with his lover three months after killing his wife.
Before the judge passed sentence, Evans and a female member of the jury both sobbed as a victim impact statement from Mrs Evans' mother, Judy Bollen, was read out in court by prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC.
In her statement, Mrs Bollen accused her daughter's husband of carrying on with his life as if his wife's death meant nothing to him.
Mrs Bollen, who prepared her statement in October last year, said her "happy world" had been shattered by the killing, which she and her husband initially thought was a tragic accident.
Querying how she would be able to explain the court proceedings to her grandchildren, Mrs Bollen added: "How do we tell three little girls that their daddy murdered their mummy?
"For us, our lives have been changed forever. It is near impossible to describe the grief, distress and upheaval that Louise's untimely death has brought to our lives.
"Alan's attitude and reaction to Louise's death has been so distressing for us. Since her death, Alan has shown no signs of remorse or regret."
Expressing disbelief at Evans' decision to resume his affair with Ms Chadwick after his wife's murder, Mrs Bollen added: "How could he?
"I just thought, Louise is still in a freezer at Sandwell mortuary and he is starting a life with that woman who hurt her so much.
"She was unhappy for the final months of her life because of them, and now he was just carrying on like Louise meant nothing. In short, it seemed as if he couldn't care less."
Speaking outside court after Evans was jailed, Mrs Bollen told reporters: "We are obviously delighted by today's verdict and now just want to be able to walk away and get on with our lives and bringing up Louise's girls.
"Although we are glad it's finally all over, we won't be celebrating because we have already lost more than Alan Evans is ever going to.
"Sitting through the trial has been a horrendous experience but we wanted to see justice done and at least we have that for Louise."