Gardener was capable of Briton's murder, ex-wife tells French trial


The ex-wife of a gardener accused of killing his British lover in rural France has told a court she believes he was capable of committing the crime, prompting sobs from relatives of the defendant. 

Sylvie Escaffre, 53, the former wife of Jean-Louis Cayrou, 54, said he became a violent, abusive husband. 

Cayrou denies murdering expat Patricia Wilson, 58, who vanished from her home in the Aveyron region of south-west France in August 2012.

Mrs Escaffre was married to Cayrou between 1988 and 2000 and had two sons with him. She has since remarried. 

She said the start of their marriage was "normal" but that the relationship deteriorated in September 1997.

During the last six months they lived together he became violent, the Cour d'Assises de l'Aveyron in Rodez heard.

Mrs Escaffre described one incident when she said he entered the bathroom while she was in the shower and tried to force himself on her, resulting in a struggle. She added that she was extremely scared of him. 

She said that after learning of Mrs Wilson's disappearance, she immediately believed Cayrou could have killed her.

Mrs Wilson, originally from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, moved into a house near the village of Vabre-Tizac in 2008 with her partner, Donald Marcus.

She embarked on a relationship with Cayrou, who was her gardener, in spring 2012 after Mr Marcus returned to England for medical treatment. 

Of Mrs Wilson's body, which has never been found, Mrs Escaffre said: "I thought to myself, if it is him, he would have been capable of burying it in my garden."

Her statement prompted sobs from the public bench where members of Cayrou's family - including some of his nine siblings - were sitting.

During Mrs Escaffre's evidence, Cayrou was told to "listen" by presiding judge Regis Cayrol, as he gestured and attempted to dispute the claims.

At one point Cayrou said he would go to prison "because of these lies". 

Questioned by Jacques Levy, representing Cayrou, Mrs Escaffre said her statement was not "revenge" against her former husband.

Asked by the defence lawyer if Cayrou had hit her during their marriage, she replied "no". 

She also confirmed that their divorce had been mutual.