Spouse murder 5: Newlywed who murdered wife after she discovered his affairs weeps as he is jailed for 17 years
21st September 2010
A cheating husband who strangled his new bride after she discovered his secret affairs with a string of women was today jailed for life.
Michael Roberts, 26, sobbed after being found guilty of murdering Vicky, 25, his wife of five months.
After the killing, the mobile phone salesman concocted an elaborate charade to make it appear that she was still alive.
Roberts sent bogus text messages from her phone to her concerned family and friends, saying the accounts manager for a chemical company had left him for another man.
He slept with his mistress in a hotel and even had a dinner with his in-laws at which he cried over their 'split' - while her dead body lay in their two-bedroom apartment.
Police were called in to investigate, only for him to escape from under their noses.
He slipped away when an officer began searching the garage in which he had dumped his wife’s body and evaded capture for four days - staying in hotels under a false name.
When he was eventually caught, Roberts admitted killing his wife but claimed he had accidentally strangled her when a sex game went wrong.
But he was actually leading a double life and had affairs with at least three women, and was romancing a fourth, before and after he married in June last year. Some were colleagues at Phones 4U where he worked and one told the police how they had enjoyed 'gymnastic sex'.
Last night Detective Inspector Jo Miller, who lead the investigation for Cheshire police, said: 'Roberts is a devious individual who has spun this web of lies to cover up the truth.
'It was very cruel of him to pretend Vicky was still alive by sending fake text messages from her phone to her mother. He even called her mother to claim he was choosing a Christmas present for her - this was especially despicable.
'There is no doubt Vicky Roberts married the man of her dreams in June 2009. She was described as “brimming over with happiness” on her wedding day.
'She wanted to make her marriage work at any cost and was willing to forgive him time and time again.
'But Michael Roberts couldn’t accept his own failings. He is a coward, a deceitful and arrogant individual who thought he could take different lovers, while at the same time remaining in a loving relationship with Vicky.
'She must have challenged him about his mistress and begged him to give her up. That ultimatum cost Vicky her life.'
Today a jury, sitting at Liverpool Crown Court, took just three hours to find Roberts, who was described as devious and clever, guilty of murder.
Mr Justice Royce jailed him for life and said he must serve a minimum of 17 years before he is eligible for parole.
The judge told Roberts: 'Vicky was a talented, vibrant, caring, lively and loving daughter.
'You cheated on her and deceived her during your relationship before and after your short marriage. She deserved better than that.
'After the killing you spun an elaborate web of deceit. The scale of your subterfuge was very considerable.
'You painted Vicky as the villain who abandoned you for another man and yourself as a wonderful and kind man. This was sickening hypocrisy.
'You went about it in a cold and heartless way to deceive her family and friends and induce sympathy for yourself.'
HEARTBREAKING LETTERS FROM A DOOMED WIFE
Vicky Roberts wrote touching letters to her then-fiancé Michael in a bid to persuade him to give up his philandering. An extract follows:
'I just want you to be honest with me. I have no intention of making things difficult between us, I don’t want to argue, I just want you, but I cannot continue to share you with her in this way.
'I want you to cut all ties with her...
'Mike, I love you, so much that I don’t think you truly know just how much. I know that all the sneaking round is hurting you as well...
'I love you, and I want to make our marriage work, I just hope that this last week has shown that to you...
'You seem to be hiding yourself even more from me. If I go near your phone you react as if I’ve done something wrong, you are constantly texting everyone else, yet admit deleting every message.
'Mike, I have never read your phone messages, and never would, but it hurts that you do not trust me when you have access to and have even read my texts without a second thought. I hide nothing from you, and feel like I don’t know you.
’Firstly, believe me when I say that you mean the world to me, and although we have had some obstacles, we have always worked through them together, and I can honestly say I love you more than ever because of this.
'I can’t wait for June 21st 2009 [wedding date] and our lives together.'
The court heard that Roberts had a 13-month affair with Kerrie Hall, 31, an administration boss at Phones4U, for whom he worked as an assistant store manager.
She told police Roberts liked rough sex and that they enjoyed gymnastic sex sessions. He had twice tried to throttle her during intercourse, claiming it would make it more enjoyable.
Roberts had a second lover in Karen Wilson, 26, who he met two months before his marriage and while still seeing Miss Hall.
A month before she died - on November 29 last year - Mrs Roberts confronted her husband after becoming suspicious about his text messages and entries on Facebook.
The court heard that she was ‘distraught and heartbroken’ after learning of his infidelity, but was desperate to save her marriage. She wrote touching letters to Roberts in a bid to persuade him to give up his philandering.
He promised to be faithful but instead continued the relationship with Miss Wilson, telling her he had ended his marriage and moved in with his parents.
Phone records obtained by police revealed that the pair contacted each other more than 5,000 times in November alone.
On the night of Mrs Roberts’s death the couple had dinner before returning to their £125,000 flat in Runcorn, Cheshire.
Roberts claimed they had sex, during which he accidentally strangled her when she asked him to tie the cord of a bath robe around her neck.
But medical evidence revealed a bath robe tie was not the ligature and considerable force was used to throttle her.
Within minutes of his wife’s death Roberts called Miss Wilson and spent more than two hours on the telephone to her, acting as if nothing had happened.
The couple spent the following day shopping with a friend, Lavinia Tolley, 26, who Roberts also admitted kissing several times behind his wife’s and Miss Wilson’s back, and had sex in a hotel in Bangor, north Wales.
The two were spotted kissing and cuddling and behaving by a pub landlord, who later recognised his picture from the television appeals and called police.
Roberts then started using his wife’s phone to send texts to himself, her friends and parents, claiming she had walked out.
He called Mrs Roberts’ mother to ask for advice on what to buy his wife for Christmas and even had dinner with his in-laws, knowing all the time their daughter was dead.
Roberts also got rid of his wife’s clothes and bought silk sheets to prepare the former marital bedroom for his mistress.
He even joked with work colleagues that he couldn’t have killed his wife because his car boot was too small to hold a body.
CCTV recovered from a supermarket and a DIY store showed Roberts buying bin bags, insulation sheets and duct tape, which he used to wrap up his wife’s corpse.
When police were eventually called, Roberts fled and went on the run for four days.
He was eventually caught after Miss Tolley spotted him outside the mobile phone shop she managed and called police.