Discussion in 'Trials' started by PastTense, Sep 30, 2017.
A police sergeant has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, who was found dead in a lake in Cheshire.
Father-of-three Darren McKie appeared via video-link from prison at Chester Crown Court on Friday for a plea and trial preparation hearing.
A trial date has been set for March 5 and Mr McKie was remanded in custody.
Trial starts today ....
DAY ONE - 15:06
Jury sworn in
The jurors have been sworn in and Nigel Power QC has started outlining the prosecutions case.​
The prosecution case is that he strangled her to death
Opening the case for the prosecution, Nigel Power QC told the jury at Chester Crown Court that two police officers saw the defendant on Adlington Road in Wilmslow at around 1.31am on Friday, September 29, 2017.
He told the officers he was walking home and pointed to Bletcheley Park Way which was not where he lived, the court heard.
At 2.10am the same day officers saw the defendant again, this time on Moor Lane in Wilmslow. This time they were concerned about him and took him home, the QC told the court.
On the second occasion the officers saw the defendant wasnt wearing shoes, the court heard.
The prosecutor continued that at about 3.45am the police received a 999 call and then went to Poynton Lake where they discovered the body of Leanne McKie, the defendants wife.
Although in shallow water, she had not drowned.
The prosecution case is that he strangled her to death, the QC told the jurors.
Insp McKie used his wifes Mini Countryman to dump her body just before police had stopped him, the court is told.
Defendant 'looked stressed in the three weeks before the death'
The jurors hear that both Darren and Leanne McKie were police officers.
The defendant was an inspector with GMP but his line manager noted he had looked stressed in the three weeks before the death, the Mr Power told the court.
Insp McKie was spoken to by his line manager on September 25, 2017, about his concerns and the defendant said he was worried about an assessment he was due to take and asked for an early finish some day that week, the jurors were told.
Leane McKie was a detective constable working in the Serious Sexual Offences Unit of GMP, working 16 hours per week over two days, the court was told.
She was the only daughter of Raymond and Eileen Dodd and was very close to her parents, Mr Power told the jury.
he met the defendant through work and they married in 2004, the jurors were told.
Initially they lived in Hale but moved to a house at The Circuit in Wilmslow, the prosecutor told the court.
In about 2012 she told her mum that that the defendant owed £20,000 on a credit card which she hadnt known about, but they stayed together and were generally happy, Mr Power told the jurors.
Couple had money troubles
The couple had recently moved from rented accommodation to another home on Burford Close in Wilmslow, the jury is told.
The couple were thought to be happy although there were money troubles the court heard.
DC McKie is said to have attended a party on September 23, 2017, the jurors are told she told a friend there: Darren has told me to stop spending money and not to buy anything else next month.
Another friend had reported Leanne was in high spirits and was postive about her latest house move, Mr Power QC told the court.
The jurors are told the friend, Helen Baglin, said: Darren and Leanne appeared to have a brilliant relationship, and came across as a perfect united family... they were a lovely genuine couple who seemed to have an amazing relationship.
The jury was told another friend, Sarah James, said of the couple: It seemed to me that they had the perfect family.
"They were living well beyond their means and were under considerable financial pressure"
The jurors are told a financial analyst looked into the McKie familys finances.
Mr McKie had worked for the police since 1996 while his wife had worked there since 2001.
Their joint monthly income was £3,933 although their finances were not straightforward, Mr Power QC told the jury.
The couple had two joint current accounts, five savings accounts, four credit cards, three active loans and six finance agreements as well as a mortgage for the house they had recently moved into, the court was told.
In short they were living well beyond their means and were under considerable financial pressure, and although that could not be described as a new position the intensity was something that you may say was considerable, according to the QC.
The family had been accruing expensive credit card debt, the prosecutor told the jurors.
Couple had £103,000 worth of debts
The QC told the jury:
"Now families often run into debt together because of extravagant spending. Often the husband and wife are in it together, and together they work their way out of it."
The couple had amassed debt totalling £103,000, not including their mortgage, and some 26 loan applications had been made for them, many of them declined, the jurors were told.
The jurors were told about text messages the couple exchanged about one loan application.
Leanne McKie is said to have questioned her husband about whether he was telling her the truth and also texted:
Are we in a mess??? Please tell me!
In another text she is said to have written:
I just worry you are trying to protect us again. Please dont ever do that.
Insp McKie is said to have replied:
There is nothing to worry about X
"Are we in such a mess? Why again? The kids need clothes and shoes whats going on"
On one loan application for £54,000 from Fluent Finance, the court was told Insp McKie had to send the couples passports as well as proof of earnings including DC McKies P60 and payslips he had obtained from his work computer on September 18, 2017.
Leanne McKie, after the passports used in the application were returned, sent a text to her husband saying:
You liar! Just got back a loan application with my passport and my name. Wtf.
The detective is then said to have searched for Fluent Money on the internet before sending her husband a second text which read:
I asked you and you promised. Fluent finance? Who are they? Are we in such a mess? Why again? The kids need clothes and shoes whats going on
Defendant went behind wife's back to make loan applications
The exchange of texts about the Fluent Finance application had shown the game was up for Insp McKie, the prosecutor told the court.
The QC said:
"Not only was there financial trouble but the defendant was going behind his wifes back making applications in her name and accessing the police computer."
The defendant had used subterfuge by obtaining information for the application, the court heard.​
Defendant sent text to wife at a time when she was thought to be dead
Insp McKie sent a text message to his wifes mobile at 3.31pm - a time when she was thought to be dead, Mr Power told the court.
The text asked you ok? and ended love you, the court heard.
The defendant sent a second text to the dead Mrs McKie at 9.20pm, according to the prosecutor.
The court is told it started hi hun and asked you ok?.
Jury sent home for day
The jury has now been sent home for the day.
They will return in the morning when the prosecution is expected to complete its opening statement.
We will have live updates from day two of the trial on Tuesday morning.
Wow! Interesting case....
First time hearing/reading about this case.
What an absolute waste of happiness
I'd guess that it was a long standing issue of, being terrible with money, living outside of their means and the stress of the lies and self loathing abd inevitable arguments got to breaking point and he snapped.
I don't get the feeling that it was a planned thing? Anyone else?
Honestly, if you're in this situation - seek debt counselling, stop buying 'stuff' ... your loved ones need you alive and not in jail more than anything else.
I think you're probably spot on. Not planned. Especially with him walking back from the dump site with no shoes on (unless he dumped them to hide evidence) and getting a lift home in a passing police car.
Mr McKie 'may have considered dumping body in pond'
The jury has begun hearing evidence on the second day of the trial.
The jurors are told the defendant may have considered dumping his wifes body at a pond near Paddock Hill Lane in Mobberley.
Prosecutor Nigel Power QC tells the jurors this may have been his first choice of dumping ground for his wife.
He refers the jurors to pictures which show a sign near the pond which says danger deep water.
The QC continued: But the problem with this deep water is that it doesnt appear to be deep all year around.
In September of last year, far from being deep water there was no water at all which is why it wasnt going to be a very good place to deposit Leanne McKies body.
'Drag marks found leading back to the car park'
The jurors are told Leane McKies Mini Countryman was found on Tern Drive in Poynton and that CCTV captured a person walking in the opposite direction in which the car had travelled.
The detectives body was found at Poynton Lake and police officers saw that her hands and arms were above the water line, the jurors hear.
An officer pulled the body from the water.
She was wearing a black and white top, had her rings on and her face appeared to have a blue colour consistent with rigour mortis having set in, the court is told.
The jurors are told that significantly Mrs McKie had blood around her nose.
Drag marks were found leading back to the car park, Mr Power tells the jury.
Insp McKie was stopped by police officers on Adlington Road in Wilmslow at 1.30am, the court is told.
Police stopped Darren McKie and let him go home
​The court is told that police officers stopped Darren McKie on Adlington Road in Wilmslow at 1.30am.
The officers wound the window down and Mr McKie appeared to be calm, the jurors were told.
He said he was fine and said I live there​, pointing to Bletchley Park even thoough he was about three-and-half miles from home, the court hears.
The officers allows Mr McKie to continue on his way.
At about 2.15am the same morning the same officers saw him again, this time on Moor Lane in Wilmslow, the court hears, although he didnt have anything on his feet apart from socks with green patches on them.
When the officers, who recognised him, questioned the Mr McKie about what he had told them earlier, he is said to have answered I live here, pointing to a nearby estate.
Mr McKie is said to have told the officers his first name but added that he didnt have to give his surname.
McKie told police 'look lads, I'm a cop. There's nothing to worry about'
When the officers saw that Mr McKie appeared to be wearing police issue trousers, he is said to have told them: Look lads, Im a cop. There is nothing to worry about. I just live around the corner. I can take you there and show you my warrant card.
The court heard they drove to the house on Burford Close and the officers saw Mr McKies Audi on the driveway.
Insp McKie handed over his warrant car and said that he was concerned about his wife who was also a GMP officer working on the rape unit and that he had gone out to look for her, the prosecutor tells the court.
He is said to have explained his wife worked shifts and would normally return home at about 11pm but that she was sometimes late.
Asked by the officers if he knew where she was, Insp McKie is said to have replied that he didnt know.
Officer asked McKie 'you haven't hurt her have you?'
The visiting officer saw Insp McKie try to call his wife on her mobile but it went straight to voicemail, the court is told.
Insp McKie had said he had only tried to text her previously.
When one of the officers asked Insp McKie you havent hurt her have you? in a light-hearted manner, the officer is said to have answered: No, what are you trying to say?
Police asked him why he wasn't wearing anything on his feet...
The court has heard that Insp McKie had been found on the road without footwear and when the officers who were in his house asked him why he had no shoes on he is said to have replied: My feet were rubbing they were old trainers so I just threw them away.
Insp McKie is then said to have shown the officers a slightly red mark on his right heel.
He told the officers he preferred to walk around looking for his wife rather than drive because he had drunk half a bottle of red wine, the court is told.
There was a half bottle of wine on the kitchen worktop island along with one empty wine glass and a tumbler, the court hears.
Officers returned to Mr McKie's home after body was found
The visiting police officers left to look for Leanne McKies Mini Countryman but could not find it.
They returned to a nearby police station to seek guidance from more senior officers who advised them to get further information, the jurors are told.
The court heard that meanwhile an angler found the body of Mrs McKie at Poynton Lake and two other police officers were called to the scene at around 4am.
The find was relayed to the two officers who had been speaking to Mr McKie and they returned to the family home on Burford Close, the court is told.
Mr McKie is said to have asked the returning officers what the problem was although he appeared calm.
Officers saw dark clothing spinning in a washing machine
The police officers saw that dark clothing was spinning in a washing machine in the homes utility room, the court hears.
At 5.07am Insp McKie was arrested on suspicion of murder and he is said to have calmly asked what would happen next.
Jury told injuries suggested Mrs McKie had 'severe force applied to the neck'
The jurors are told about a post mortem examination on Mrs McKies body.
It is said to have found no evidence of natural disease which may have contributed to her death and it also ruled out drowning.
The examination found abrasions consistent with the body being dragged, the court is told.
The jurors are told there were obvious florid asphyxial changes to the head and neck which were said to be consistent with someone who had a lack of oxygen.
The prosecutor also told he jury that bruising had been found to the skin of the neck while there was also internal bruising of the neck muscles.
The injuries suggested severe force applied to the neck and also indicated a hand being placed over the mouth, the QC tells the jury.
The court hears that Leanne McKie died of asphyxia due external compression of the neck probably due to manual strangulation.
The death had probably happened at around noon, the jurors are told.
I'm starting to think maybe some planning did go into this.
'Blood-spattered trainers found in bin 100 yards away'
Insp McKies blood-spattered trainers were found in a bin about a 100 yards from the familys home, the jurors are told.
DNA analysis shows this is Leanne McKies blood, the prosecutor, Mr Power, told the jurors.
The jury hears analysis also showed that soil found on the trainers was from the deposition site where her body was found rather than from the garden of the family home.
Prosecutor says Mr McKie's story 'does not stack up'
​When Insp McKie was interviewed on suspicion of his wifes murder, he said the pair had been married 13 years.
He told officers he went to work early, had arranged to go home early that day and went home at 12.30pm to speak to a surveyor, the court was told.
The inspector said that he started to worry about his wife, who was working a late shift, as she had not texted him and made a stupid decision to look for her, the court is told.
He said he left his phone at home and didnt leave a note, the jurors hear.
​Prosecutor Nigel Power QC said these comments did not stack up considering the CCTV evidence that the jury will see.
Insp McKie said in his police interview he had washed his police kit as he was due to work​ again on Saturday.
He told the interviewers he made a cup of tea and sent a text to his wife bit didnt phone her, the court is told.
He said he fell asleep but was woken by the police at his door.
Court told she 'discovered he had made a £57,000 loan application behind her back'
In a later police interview, Insp McKie described his wifes irrational worries and how she would worry about a minor thing disproportionately, the court hears.
He said his wife would fly off the handle easily and regularly and she wanted financial problems to go away, the jury is told.
The officer was asked about a text message his wife had sent him when she accused him of being a liar when she had allegedly discovered he had made a £57,000 loan application behind her back.
Insp McKie said he didnt know why she had called him a liar but added that she had trouble having to deal with a debt head on.
'I did not kill my wife'
The jurors are told that Insp McKie was charged with murder on October 2 last year and that he is said to responded: I did not kill my wife.
Nigel Power QC, coming to an end of his opening statement for the prosecution, told the jurors: Thats the issue you will have to decide in this case, whether Mr McKie killed his wife or whether it was some other person.
No mention of where she was killed yet. If she was killed at around midday her body must have been kept somewhere for near on 12 hours I suppose? Her absence could have been explained away by her 'shift work' I expect.
A lot of blood around her nose the pm says, so maybe he punched her in the face first then strangled her? Not sure it was premeditated so far, but more evidence to come.
Leanne McKie 'was upset at finding out about £20,000 credit card debt'
A statement from the mother of Leanne McKie, Ellen Dodd, was read to the jury.
Mrs Dodd said the pair met while Darren McKie was a constable and Leanne was a probationer he was mentoring at GMP.
The pair kept their relationship discreet at first.
I found Darren to be a nice person and seemed to be genuine towards Leanne, said Mrs Dodd.
The pair hardly ever argued and always seemed to be happy, she said.
They never told me about any problems in their marriage, said Mrs Dodd.
She described how her daughter came to her about five years ago upset at finding out about a £20,000 credit card debt.
Mrs Dodd assumed her husband must have told her about the debt.
The mother questioned how the couple afford their lifestyle at a point when only Darren was working and Leanne was away from work having and raising children.
Jury told of couple's 'out of control' spending
The jurors are hearing evidence from Detective Constable Anthony Condon, an economic analyst at Cheshire Police who examined the couples finances and how they spiralled out of control.
The court heard that over one eight-year period the couple spent about £30,000 on holidays and flights as well as about £70,000 at supermarkets.
Some £12,846 of this was spent at M&S, the court is told.
The couple had a large amount of credit card debt, the jurors are told, and their parents bailed them out to the tune of £34,000 in 2013 to pay help pay it off.
'In the seven months before Leanne died the couple had spent £57,803 more than their income'
The jurors hear that the couple spent £4,500 on a holiday to Portugal in the summer of 2017.
By the time of Leannes death, the couples credit cards had balances totalling £45,782, the court hears, and they owed tradesmen doing work on their home £17,385.
They also owed £40,011 on loans and finance agreements, the jury hears.
It meant the family was £103,178 in the red not including their mortgage, according to the analyst.
In the seven months before Leanne McKie died, the couple had spent £57,803 more than their income, the court heard.
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