Police inspector 'laughed on school run' hours after killing wife, court told

A police inspector calmly showed a surveyor into his home and laughed with parents on the school run in the hours after he strangled his wife to death, a court has heard.

Darren McKie, 43, is accused of murdering his wife Leanne, 39, a detective constable, and dumping her body in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, where it was discovered on September 29 last year.

His trial at Chester Crown Court has been told that a post-mortem examination revealed she was likely to have died at about midday the day before her body was found.

Leanne McKie death
Leanne McKie, 39, whose body was found in Poynton Lake (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)

On Wednesday, the jury of six men and six women heard that McKie had left work at Stretford police station abruptly at about 11.30am on the day of her death, following a text message sent to him by his wife after she discovered he had applied for a £54,000 loan in her name.

He arrived back at their home in Burford Close, Wilmslow, at 12.05pm that day.

Chartered surveyor Anthony Parker said he spoke to McKie on the phone at 12.09pm to confirm a time to come to value the house, in connection with the loan application, and they had agreed he would arrive at 1.30pm.

In a statement, neighbour Ann Taylor said she drove past the home at about 12.45pm and saw a red Mini - Mrs McKie's car - reversing out of the driveway, but could not see who was at the wheel.

Leanne McKie death
The red Mini belonging to Leanne McKie (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)

Mr Parker told the court he arrived at the house at about 1pm and there were no cars on the driveway.

A few minutes later, he saw the father-of-three arrive on foot and let himself into the home.

He said: "I just waited a couple of minutes and then I got out of my car and went to the front door.

"Mr McKie opened the door, we exchanged pleasantries."

He said McKie had waited in the kitchen while he looked around the property, which he valued at £505,000.

Being questioned by Trevor Burke QC, defending, he agreed that the survey had been "totally unremarkable".

Mr Parker agreed that McKie, who told him he had left work early because of the valuation, was "perfectly normal" and was not agitated or intrusive.

In statements which were read to the court, friends of the couple described seeing McKie picking children up from school later that day and taking his daughter to a ballet class.

Sarah Eaton said she saw him walking out of the school gates.

She said: "He was really laughing hard and I remember thinking he must have been told something funny.

"Looking back on it now, the laughing appeared over the top."

Friend Nick Baglin said he had spoken to McKie about their children outside the school.

He said: "He appeared a little bit more upbeat than usual, he certainly didn't appear to be carrying any stress or strains.

"The last thing Darren said to me was 'We must have you round for drinks'."

The court has heard that the couple, who both worked for Greater Manchester Police, were more than £100,000 in debt at the time of Mrs McKie's death.

McKie denies the murder and manslaughter of his wife.

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