Police inspector who strangled wife jailed for at least 19 years
A police inspector has been jailed for at least 19 years for the "brutal killing" of his detective constable wife.
Darren McKie, 43, was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday for the murder of wife Leanne, 39.
The Greater Manchester Police officer had admitted the manslaughter of his wife, who was found in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on September 29 last year, but was found guilty of her murder last Friday.
Sentencing him to life imprisonment, judge Mr Justice Spencer said: "You strangled her to death in the family home. It was a cruel killing.
"Then, abusing your knowledge with criminal investigations and abusing the public trust in you as a senior police officer, you set about disposing of your wife's body in a callous and despicable way."
He added: "You have robbed your children of their mother and have robbed Leanne's parents of their beloved only child."
McKie, wearing a navy blue suit, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as he was sentenced.
Families of both the defendant and Mrs McKie were in court for the hearing.
Mr Justice Spencer said McKie and his wife appeared to have a "perfect marriage and a perfect family".
But he said, the "spectre of serious and constant debt" was in the background and the couple were living beyond their means.
He said: "Your combined monthly income was greatly exceeded by your monthly expenditure. Despite this you took an expensive family holiday in Portugal that summer, costing over £6,000.
"There was bound to be a day of reckoning."
He said McKie resorted to "subterfuge and fraud" to hide the debts, said to be more than £115,000, from his wife.
The court heard he forged his wife's signature and misused the police computer to obtain copies of her payslips for a loan application.
When the documents were returned to the family home in Wilmslow and discovered by Mrs McKie on the morning of her death she sent a text message to her husband calling him a liar.
Mr Justice Spencer said: "At 11.32am you texted her that you were coming home.
"Within the hour you had killed her."
Mrs McKie's mother Ellen Dodd was in tears in court as the judge described the "brutal killing".
He said: "She must have been aware that she was being strangled to death, in the family home, by the father of her children.
"It was an awful way to die."
The court heard McKie put his wife's body in the boot of her red Mini and drove it a short distance away, returning to the car later that night after putting their three children to bed and taking her body to Poynton Lake.
He denied responsibility for her death during police interviews and when his trial started, changing his plea to admit her manslaughter nine days into the case.
Mr Justice Spencer said: "I am quite sure that you did so not out of remorse, but simply as a damage limitation exercise."
In a statement read to the court, Mrs Dodd said: "We are so sad that Leanne's children have been left without a mother to look after them and watch them grow up.
"They love her so much and miss her. Nothing will bring our beautiful daughter back to us. Our lives will never be the same again."
Trevor Burke QC, defending, said: "Nothing I say in mitigation for Mr McKie can minimise the suffering of his family and his children."
He added: "On any view there was severe stress in the background of this entire sorry case."