Inspector's trial jury told to consider whether wife's death terrible accident

The jury in the trial of a police inspector who killed his wife has been told to consider whether her death was a "terrible, terrible accident".

Darren McKie, 43, admitted the manslaughter of wife Leanne, a 39-year-old detective constable, on the ninth day of his trial but continues to deny her murder.

In his closing speech at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, Trevor Burke QC, defending, said none of the evidence in the case was disputed.

Darren McKie court case
Leanne McKie, whose body was discovered in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, last September (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)

He told jurors they must decide whether Mrs McKie's death was "deliberate, calculated, cold murder" or a "terrible, terrible accident".

The court has heard Mrs McKie, a mother-of-three, was found in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on September 29 last year and pathology evidence showed she had been strangled to death the day before.

Mr Burke said the sole issue for the jury was what McKie, who did not give evidence in the trial, had intended when he assaulted his wife.

He said the prosecution had to prove that McKie "wanted rid of her, wanted her dead".

Leanne McKie death
A red Mini belonging to Leanne McKie, which was found by police in Poynton, Cheshire, after her body was discovered in Poynton Lake (Cheshire Constabulary/PA)

But, he said, the evidence was equally consistent with a struggle and attempt to silence Mrs McKie.

Mr Burke said: "We would submit, based on what you know of him and her, the very last thing he would have wanted was the death of his wife."

The court has heard McKie returned to the family's Wilmslow home from work on the day of his wife's death after she discovered he had made a joint application for a £54,000 loan in their names without her knowledge.

Mr Burke said: "We don't know precisely what happened because the defendant has not given evidence but you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out there must have been a most dreadful confrontation.

"The moment he put his key in the lock and opened that door, Leanne was waiting for him."

But he said it was preposterous to suggest McKie might have been worried his wife would report him for the fraudulent loan application and he would lose his job with Greater Manchester Police.

He said: "The idea that she would somehow expose him to the authorities on realising he'd made a joint application to remortgage and destroy him in the process is, on the facts of this case, fanciful."

Mr Burke said debt was nothing new for the couple, who owed more than £100,000 at the time of Mrs McKie's death, and they had always lived beyond their means.

In the months leading up to her death, the couple had spent money on renovations for their new home, including £3,500 on a granite kitchen worktop, he said.

"That's a month's salary for this family on a kitchen counter," Mr Burke said.

He added: "Small wonder they found themselves so significantly in debt so quickly."

He said Mrs McKie must have known that their income could not sustain their level of spending but made a decision simply not to inquire.

He said: "Based on their 13-year marriage together it seems crystal clear that Mr McKie didn't discuss money with her or at least didn't discuss it with her in the way he most definitely should have done."

Mr Burke said McKie was a man of good character before her death and there was no history of violence in the relationship.

Judge Mr Justice Spencer is due to begin summing up the case on Tuesday afternoon.

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