A RICH farmer was murdered by his estranged wife and her lover when he refused to divorce her, a court heard.
William Taylor, known as Bill, wrote a letter professing his love to wife Angela, 53, despite her affair with his lodger Paul Cannon, 54.
But the wealthy landowner was said to have only made the couple bitterly resentful and they plotted on WhatsApp to find a hitman to kill him.
He vanished in June last year just before his 70th birthday.
Prosecutor John Price QC told the court: “It will become apparent that Mr Cannon and Mrs Taylor shared and encouraged in each other a venomous hatred for William Taylor — they loathed him.”
The Taylors met in 1992, married five years later and had three children. However, she did not get on with his son, Richard, from his first marriage.
Taylor filed for divorce in 2014 and was given two farms, worth at least £1million, as part of a financial settlement, the jury was told.
By 2017, she was having an affair with Cannon, who for some months lodged with her husband at Harkness Hall, his farmhouse near Hitchin, Herts.
She began divorce proceedings again in March 2018 but her husband refused, St Albans crown court was told.
Mr Price said: “He made it clear he wanted her back. She was not interested.”
Taylor and her lover allegedly harassed and threatened her estranged husband. On one occasion, Cannon was said to have told him he would “get it”.
She was also alleged to have said: “I can get rid of the Taylors any time — whenever I want. I will get someone in Yorkshire to sort it out.”
In the four months before he vanished, the couple were said to have exchanged thousands of graphic WhatsApp messages in which they wished him dead.
Mr Price said: “The language used if frequently obscene and sometimes verges on pornographic hyperbole.”
A week before Mr Taylor went missing his Land Rover was deliberately set alight.
But while police searched for Mr Taylor, the couple raised suspicions by referring to him in the past tense.
The killing was alleged to have been carried out by Cannon and his work pal, Gwyn Griffiths. Taylor was probably asleep at home at the time, the court heard.
Mr Price said: “It is alleged she participated in murder by encouraging her lover to do it.
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“One of the things that we say she encouraged Mr Cannon to do was to find a man who would be prepared to kill her husband for money. Cannon did as she asked of him.”
Taylor and Paul Cannon, both of Hitchin, and Griffiths, 60, of Folkestone, Kent, deny murder and an alternative lesser charge of conspiracy to murder.
Taylor and Cannon also deny arson of the farmer’s Land Rover.
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