Man, 30, jailed for life after murdering wife and dumping her body in woods six months after having their child

10 November 2022, 20:49

A man who murdered his wife and dumped her body in woodland has been jailed for life
A man who murdered his wife and dumped her body in woodland has been jailed for life. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

By Emma Soteriou

A man who murdered his wife and dumped her body in the woods six months after she gave birth to their child has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

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Matthew Fisher, 30, strangled primary school teacher Abi Fisher, 29, before leading police and her family on a "wild goose chase" by claiming she left him and their daughter in the middle of the night, Leeds Crown Court was told.

While hundreds of people were searching for Mrs Fisher near her home in Castleford, West Yorkshire, police checked her phone and found searches including "why does my husband hate me?" and "is marriage counselling available on the NHS?" prosecutor James Lake said.

Officers then discovered her husband's phone - and car - had been on the move when he claimed he was asleep, the court heard.

Fisher was seen on CCTV leaving home after 4am on July 9 and returning just before 9.30am.

While he was gone, he travelled to Lancashire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, the court was told.

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Matthew Fisher, 30, strangled his wife
Matthew Fisher, 30, strangled his wife. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

Police found Ms Fisher's body in bushes near a lay-by in Southmoor Road, near Brierley in South Yorkshire, on July 10 - the day after she was reported missing.

She was partly covered by shrubbery and Fisher's fingerprints were on gaffer tape near the body, the court heard.

Ms Fisher had been throttled and victim of a "serious assault" which included multiple punches or kicks to the head and face, post-mortem tests found.

Fisher went on to tell a psychiatrist he "lost it" after his wife told him she was "not happy and was going to move back in with her parents", Mr Lake said.

The defendant claimed he put his hand over his wife's mouth to try and smother her and, when that did not work, he smothered her with a t-shirt.

But that did not account for all Mrs Fisher's injuries, the court was told.

Fisher's barrister James Little Hales said: "It's clear that more happened than he acknowledged (to the psychiatrist)."

The couple met at secondary school and married in June 2016, with their daughter Sydney christened five days before the murder, the court heard.

Ms Fisher had been throttled and victim of a "serious assault"
Ms Fisher had been throttled and victim of a "serious assault". Picture: West Yorkshire Police

In her victim impact statement, Ms Fisher's mother, Andrea Richardson, said her daughter had three rounds of IVF so she "could both have the child you wanted so much".

She said the two other embryos were put in the coffin "with their mummy".

Telling Fisher, who sat with his head in his hands throughout the hearing, to "please look at me and show me some respect", Ms Richardson said: "We treated you like a son, Matthew, and you lied to our faces.

"You sat there knowing you had killed my baby girl, dragged her through the undergrowth and dumped her in the woods where you used to play as a child."

She and her husband Michael, who are now looking after Sydney, said they never felt anything was wrong in their daughter's marriage and never thought Fisher would hurt her.

Sentencing Fisher, who admitted murder, judge Tom Bayliss KC said: "You told cruel and calculated lies to police and (Ms Fisher's) family.

"You murdered your wife, the woman you loved. You left your little daughter without any parent to care for her.

"By your actions you have taken one life and left the lives of so many others in tatters."