Undertaker 'killed his wife while having affair with a widow and dipped into his joint bank account for a love nest to share with mistress'
John Taylor, 61, started affair with Alison Dearden when her husband diedSix months later his wife Alethea, 63, mysteriously disappeared without traceMrs Dearden, 53, told court how lovers were planning to elope

Andy Dolan


16:23 GMT, 25 February 2013



20:40 GMT, 25 February 2013

An undertaker murdered his wife while enjoying an affair with a widow he seduced after arranging her late husband’s funeral, a court heard today.

John Taylor, 61, is accused of killing wife Alethea, six months in to the ‘intense’ affair with Alison Dearden, 53.

A court today heard he began bombarding the widow with text messages within weeks of Mr Dearden’s death.

John Taylor

Alethea Taylor

Couple: John Taylor, left, is accused of killing his wife Alethea, right, while having an affair with another woman

Taylor even left red roses on her
doorstep, a jury heard, and dipped into the marital joint bank account
to buy a ‘love nest’ he planned to share with his mistress.

Mrs Dearden told the court she began
sleeping with Taylor in July 2011, eight months after liaising with the
funeral director over her husband David’s funeral.

The Taylors had known Mrs Dearden, who
lived in a nearby village, for 12 years, after first meeting at church,
the jury were told. But following Mr Dearden’s death Taylor began
confiding in her about his ‘unhappy’ marriage, she said.

Taylor is charged with his wife’s
murder even though no trace of the former teacher has been found since
she was last seen at their home in January last year.

The court heard
Mrs Taylor, 63, had discovered the affair, and had written that her
husband had become ‘besotted with a certain little widow’.

Mrs Dearden told the court how in June
2011, Taylor arrived at her home with a card and two bottles of wine
for her birthday, which was the following month.

On the day of her actual birthday, she
came home to find ‘some red roses on the doorstep’ of her cottage in
Brimfield, Herefordshire.

Home: The couple lived together at this home in Orleton, Herefordshire, near Mr Taylor's mistress

Home: The couple lived together at this home in Orleton, Herefordshire, near Mr Taylor's mistress

Mrs Dearden added: ‘There was no note
on them, but a few days later John rang me and asked if I had found some
red roses on my doorstep.

‘He asked me to go out for the day with him, and I asked him if he meant with Alethea. He said ‘no, just me’.

‘I think I said ‘John you are married
it is not appropriate for me to go out with you on your own.’ I think I
said to him to come over for coffee and talk to me about it.’

Mrs Dearden said that when Taylor then
came to her home, he ‘started to talk about his marriage to Alethea’,
adding: ‘He just said they had lived ‘like brother and sister’ for five
or six years and he was very unhappy.

‘He told me he could easily fall in love with me.’

She said the couple did eventually go out for the day, and said they ‘just seemed to click’.

As their relationship blossomed, they exchanged text messages, some of which were read out at Worcester Crown Court.

One, from August, five months before
Mrs Taylor’s disappearance, read: ‘Can’t stop wanting to be with you – I
love you so much.’

Mrs Dearden said: ‘I felt dead when
David died and then John came along and he brought me so much joy. It
was a very intense relationship.’

But as the months wore on, the couple both became ‘frustrated’ by the situation.

‘I found it frustrating that I couldn’t see John when I wanted to and I felt very guilty and uncomfortable,’ she said.

‘He felt guilty about the lies – the
lying at home.’ Mrs Dearden recalled how she had sent a ‘jokey’ text to
Taylor at one point saying she had found them a seaside house and, asked
by Jonas Hankin, prosecuting, if she saw a future with Taylor, she
replied ‘sometimes, yes’.

In a text Taylor sent her, he said: ‘I
don’t see how we will last till(sic) Christmas. I can’t last five
months, I am so attracted to you.’

Mr Hankin asked Mrs Dearden what she thought that text meant.

She replied: ‘I think John was saying he was willing to leave Alethea by Christmas.’

The jury have been told that Taylor
told the couple’s friends his wife vanished after developing ‘some kind
of dementia’. But the court heard Mrs Taylor’s friends saw nothing in
her behaviour to suggest she was losing her memory, and she had not
confided in them about any such problems.

The prosecution said Taylor was ‘keen
to spread around’ the idea his wife was ‘in some way, losing her mind’
to cover up for her disappearance.

Taylor, of Orleton, Herefordshire, denies murder.

The case continues.