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Husband who posed as dead wife jailed for life.

A husband was jailed for life yesterday after a court was told he murdered his wife and burned her dismembered body before staging an 'elaborate charade' to pretend she was still alive.

Part of George Eckersley's deception involved dressing in her coat and a blonde wig as he left a bag of her clothes in a railway station left luggage office, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Former warehouseman Eckersley (52), of Colenso Road, Holbeck, Leeds, was jailed for life after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to killing his wife, Denise, in October last year.

Andrew Campbell QC, prosecuting, said that Eckersley told police that he had hit his wife of four years twice on the head with a candlestick and strangled her before putting her body in the bath and dismembering it with a hacksaw.

He then drove the remains 15 miles to a pallet yard where he worked part-time and incinerated them.

Mr Campbell said that Eckersley then tried to cover up his crime by forging letters purportedly written by his wife to himself and her daughter, withdrawing money with her bank card from cash machines around the North of England and making emotional appeals for her return.

During the charade, which lasted more than a month, he bought a blonde wig and travelled to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire where he left the holdall in the left luggage office.

Mr Campbell said Eckersley had even worn his wife's underclothes to make it appear she had worn the clothing he left in the holdall.

On the same day, five weeks after the killing, he left two empty bottles of vodka and a bottle of tablets next to his wife's handbag on the beach and threw the coat and a shoe into the water to make it appear she had drowned.

In the handbag he left the luggage key, intending police to find it and the holdall.

The judge Mr Justice Harrison told father-of-two Eckersley that despite him telling police he had not intended to murder his wife during an argument, he was convinced there had been forethought involved.

'The prompt and efficient way you disposed of her body shows there must at least have been a degree of pre-planning,' he said.

'The dismemberment of your wife's body and its subsequent incineration can only be viewed with abhorrence and revulsion by right-minded members of society.

'Thereafter you span a web of deceit by an elaborate charade in order to cover up what you had done.'

Eckersley was arrested in connection with the disappearance a month after the killing but released on bail because of a lack of evidence.

He was again arrested at Leeds-Bradford Airport by police who were tracking him as he was preparing to flee to Amsterdam on a duplicate passport.

DNA in saliva found on some of the envelopes containing the forged letters matched that of Eckersley.

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2000
Words:485
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