Wife and lover jailed for killing wealthy farmer
Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court.
A wife and her lover who shared twisted fantasies of having sex in her multi-millionaire husband’s blood will spend at least 21 years in jail for murdering him.
Angela Taylor, 53, and Paul Cannon, 54, killed wealthy farmer William Taylor, fuelled by a “venomous hatred” of him and his refusal to grant his wife of 20 years and mother of three of his children a divorce.
For months, the couple had secretly revelled in violently pornographic fantasies of torturing and maiming the landowner, who suffered from arthritis and tinnitus and vanished just days before his 70th birthday last June.
Passing sentence at a packed St Albans Crown Court on Friday at the end of a two-month trial, judge Michael Kay QC said: “Only Paul Cannon and Angela Taylor and perhaps an unknown accomplice know what happened that night.
“The evidence suggests that, having been lured out of his house, William Taylor was attacked in the farmyard and killed there by means of strangulation or suffocation.
“(William Taylor) loved Angela Taylor to the end despite whatever she did to him and however much she did not deserve that love.”
He said the “primary reason” for the killing “may be simply the extent to which Angela Taylor in particular loathed the very sight of William Taylor and felt she could never be rid of him”.
Mr Taylor’s skeletal remains were found waist-deep in mud on a secluded riverbank near one of his farms in Gosmore, Hertfordshire, in February – eight months after he was last seen alive.
Exactly how he died remains unexplained.
A bottle of Baileys liqueur, a teacup, an eaten corn on the cob and some rope were placed by the body in a “vain attempt” to make the scene look like a suicide or accident, he added.
But despite a lack of forensic evidence, the murder plot was revealed in lurid WhatsApp messages, which included fantasies of showering together as Mr Taylor’s blood ran down the drain and cutting his ligaments and fingers off.
The pair had exchanged 28,000 messages between February and June last year, believing they were safe and could not be accessed.
But they were later found by police in the memory of Cannon’s phone, despite being deleted by the farm labourer.
The Taylor family estate and property across Hertfordshire was collectively worth “tens of millions of pounds”, the court heard.
After Taylor began a secret affair with digger driver Cannon in late 2017, she promised to move back in with her husband if he signed over half of his property to her in a “duplicitous and calculating” move motivated by “insatiable greed”, the judge said.
He added: “The truth was she hated William Taylor and she and Paul Cannon were already plotting to kill him.”
Mr Taylor, who penned a love letter to Taylor to try and win her back, had already given her two farms worth more than £1 million debt-free in 2015 as part of a financial settlement.
Mr Taylor’s eldest son Richard, from a previous marriage, said in a statement: “The truth we have always known has finally come out.
“This senseless act that has destroyed my family is finally coming to an end. It will never be truly over, but we can now start to mourn our loss knowing justice has been done.”
The judge added: “There is an old adage which is peculiarly applicable to this case: money cannot buy you happiness.
“The Taylor family … collectively and individually owned properties and farm land near Hitchin worth tens of millions of pounds.
“However, a toxic combination of jealously, hatred and greed rendered all of them unhappy.”
Detective Chief Inspector Carl Foster, of Hertfordshire Police, said: “I hope that Angela Taylor and Paul Cannon’s time behind bars is spent reflecting on their evil actions.
“Bill was a well-loved father and grandfather and not long after he was reported missing, he should have been celebrating his 70th birthday with his loved ones.
“My thoughts remain with Bill’s family, who have acted with dignity throughout the investigation and trial.”
The pair, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, were jailed for 22 years minus the 343 days already spent in custody, meaning they will spend a minimum of 21 years and 22 days in jail before they can be considered for parole.
They were also sentenced to two years after being convicted of arson for torching Mr Taylor’s Land Rover, to be served concurrently.
The judge said he saw “no reason to distinguish between the defendants” and acknowledged that while Taylor was probably not involved in the physical killing, she was the “driving force behind it”.
Aggravating factors included trying to put the blame for the killing on Mr Taylor’s eldest son Richard, concealing the body and the “lengthy and significant planning” of the murder.
The judge added: “If and when they are released, they will be subject to licence for life.”