Man guilty of wife's murder

A man from Loggerheads, near Market Drayton, was today convicted of murdering his wife by trapping her in a house fire.

Alan Stead murdered his wife, AnitaA man from Loggerheads, near Market Drayton, was today convicted of murdering his wife by trapping her in a house fire.

Alan Stead, 42, was found guilty of killing Anita Stead by a unanimous verdict from the jury of four men and eight women following a four-week trial at Stafford Crown Court.

The father-of-four, of Meynellfield, Loggerheads, showed no emotion as he was jailed for life.

Sir Michael Astill, deputy High Court judge, told Stead he would serve at least 25 years.

Sentencing him, Sir Michael told Stead: "You killed your wife and left motherless four small children to whom she was utterly devoted.

"You leave grief and sadness in your wake. Your wife was described by others as a lovely woman and a wonderful mother.

"She put her children before anything, but you put yourself before anyone or anything.

"You planned her murder step by step over a period of time.

"When the fire was raging, after you had lured her into the computer room and locked her there, you delayed the fire and rescue services from finding her, so the fire and its awful consequences could kill her first.

"In accordance with your plan you then acted out a charade of being a grieving, hysterical husband.

"You piled lie upon lie. You wanted to be seen as the hero of a tragic event you had created.

"Your last despicable attempt was to say your wife lit the fire and killed herself. Your cruelty has shown no bounds.

"You have isolated the children from your wife's family and have poisoned their minds."

Stead murdered his 39-year-old wife because he had discovered she planned to divorce him.

He locked her in a specially built room in the garage at their home and started a blaze.

He denied murder and told jurors his wife lit the fire in a bid to take her own life at their former home in Newcastle-under-Lyme on May 27, 2002.

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