Police inspector killed wife after racking up debts, court hears


A police inspector strangled his wife and dumped her body in a lake after racking up more than £100,000 worth of debt, a court has heard.

Darren McKie, 43, denies the murder and manslaughter of his wife Leanne McKie, 39, a detective constable, whose body was discovered at Poynton Lake in Cheshire on September 29 last year.

Opening the trial at Chester Crown Court on Monday, Nigel Power QC, prosecuting, said friends described the couple, who had three children, as the "perfect family".

Leanne McKie death
Leanne McKie, whose body was found in Poynton Lake (Cheshire Police/PA)

But he said the McKies, who both worked for Greater Manchester Police, were "living well beyond their means" and "under considerable financial pressure".

The court heard they had debts of more than £100,000 - including bank and credit card balances, loans and money owed for renovation work to their new home on Burford Close in Wilmslow.

Fifteen loan applications had been made in McKie and his wife's name on September 22, a week before her death, although only one was successful.

Mr Power told the jury: "The prosecution say all those applications were made by Mr McKie, made by him without his wife's knowledge."

Leanne McKie death
A red Mini belonging to Leanne McKie, whose husband Darren is standing trial for her murder (Cheshire Police/PA)

The court was played a recording of a phone call Mrs McKie made to company AA Loans on September 5 in which she said her husband had not applied for any loans, although his details had been used for applications.

In a text message sent to her husband the following day, Mrs McKie asked him: "Are we in a mess??? Please tell me!"

But, he replied telling her to "please stop doubting me".

The jury was told McKie had accessed the police computer to find proof of earnings for his wife, which he sent to loan company Fluent Finance with the hope of borrowing £54,000 - on the basis it would consolidate his debts.

On the morning of her death, Mrs McKie received a letter from the company and sent her husband a message which said: "You liar. Just got back a loan application with my passport and my name. Wtf."

She sent a second message saying: "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 what's going on?"

McKie, who wore a navy suit for the court hearing, had replied saying "I'm coming home".

He left work at Stretford Police Station at about 11.30am that day and returned to the house, the court was told.

Mr Power said: "The game was up. Not only were they in terrible financial trouble, but the defendant had been going behind his wife's back."

The court heard Mrs McKie had been due in work at 3pm that day but did not arrive.

Her car, a red Mini, was seen leaving the house at about 12.45pm, when the prosecution allege it was driven by the defendant, who returned to the house on foot minutes later.

McKie later went to pick their children up from school and sent text messages to his wife at 3.30pm  and 9.20pm.

The court heard the Mini was seen driving around the Poynton area on the night of September 28 and the early hours of the following day.

Mr Power said: "The defendant, in that car, had taken his dead wife to the lake at Poynton, dragged her along to the lakeside and dumped her body in the lake."

The trial, estimated to last between three and four weeks, will continue on Tuesday.