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Inspector Darren McKie guilty of wife's murder

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Media captionDarren McKie tried to use his police knowledge to cover his tracks

A police inspector has been found guilty of murdering his wife and dumping her body in a lake.

Darren McKie, 43, denied murdering his wife Leanne but admitted manslaughter towards the end of his trial.

Mrs McKie, 39, a detective constable, was found strangled in Poynton Lake in Cheshire on 29 September.

Jurors at Chester Crown Court deliberated for almost two days before reaching a majority verdict. McKie will be sentenced on Tuesday.

The couple, who both worked for Greater Manchester Police, had financial problems and owed more than £100,000, the court heard.

‘Determined’

They had appeared to be a “perfect family” but were really living “well beyond their means”, prosecutors said.

The father-of-three, who had 20 years of police service, strangled his wife after she discovered he had made a joint application for a £54,000 loan without her consent.

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Leanne and Darren McKie both worked for Greater Manchester Police

McKie had forged his wife’s signature repeatedly, using her warrant number and wage documents for the application, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Nigel Power QC told the court: “What produced the argument that led to her death was that he’d been found out in committing serious criminal offences.”

The court heard McKie had left work at Stretford police station abruptly at about 11:30 GMT on the day of his wife’s death, after receiving a text message from her revealing she had discovered the loan application.

Mr Power said McKie then “determinedly strangled his wife to death”, involving significant force for at least a minute.

In the hours that followed, the inspector showed a surveyor into his home and was said to have laughed with parents on the school run.

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Leanne McKie’s body was found in shallow water in Poynton Lake

Police believe Mrs McKie’s body was either under the stairs or in the boot of their car when the surveyor arrived.

He was twice spotted walking towards Wilmslow, where the family lived, by patrol officers in the hours before Mrs McKie’s body was discovered in shallow water at Poynton Lake.

During the second sighting, at 02:15 GMT, the officers noticed he was not wearing shoes.

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Darren McKie, pictured arriving at Chester Crown Court during his trial

His trainers were later found in a wheelie bin with traces of his wife’s blood on them, as well as soil from the lake area.

In his closing speech, Mr Power said the inspector went on to play a “game of cat and mouse” with police.

Mckie tried to cover his tracks by not carrying his mobile phone in an attempt to prevent police tracing his movements.

He also sent text messages to his wife’s phone in the hours after her death, and showed “no emotion” in police custody.

The jury rejected McKie’s defence barrister’s suggestion that the killing had not been intentional and was a “terrible, terrible mistake”.

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GMP

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McKie’s trainers were found in a wheelie bin with traces of his wife’s blood on them

Det Supt Aaron Duggan, who led the investigation, said: “This is a very tragic case, we have got three children here who have been left without a mother – and sadly also a father – because of his actions.

“I think he has completely distanced himself from the reality of what he has done. I think it’s very very sad that he’s waited until all the evidence has been presented before he has admitted his guilt.

“We can’t lose sight of the fact that it has involved two police officers but we haven’t treated the case any differently because of that.”

Det Insp Adam Walle said Mckie had “used the knowledge gained as a police officer to try and systematically cover his tracks” with the aim of creating the impression that his wife had been murdered by somebody else.

“He is a coward and refused to admit responsibility for his actions throughout,” he said.

In a statement, Mrs McKie’s family said “justice had been served” but there were “no winners in this trial”.

“Our lives will never be the same again. We have lost our beautiful daughter and our grandchildren have lost their beloved mummy,” they added.

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