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Gay lover 'killed dad - of - three in hotel bedroom' MURDER TRIAL TOLD OF HORROR SCENE.

Byline: JOHN-PAUL FORD ROJAS

A GAY con artist murdered his married lover with a fire extinguisher after he became suspicious about his past, a court heard yesterday.

Gareth MacDonald had left his wife and children for ex-British Airways steward Glenn Rycroft but soon feared he was involved with a "con man", jurors heard.

Rycroft had previously cheated friends and colleagues of more than pounds 200,000 in a fraudulent investment scheme and by pretending he had cancer.

Mr MacDonald, 30, a former pub manager and father of three from Prestatyn, was killed in a Travelodge hotel room off the M4 in September 2007.

Crispin Aylett QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey: "The defendant murdered Gareth MacDonald by hitting him twice over the head with a fire extinguisher."

The couple had stayed overnight in the room at Heston services and Rycroft was seen on CCTV driving off at 7am.

Mr Aylett said by this time he had already murdered Mr MacDonald - but he came back shortly afterwards and after returning to the room ran to reception asking for an ambulance.

"Inside the room, Gareth MacDonald was lying face down on the bed. He was wearing only his underpants," said Mr Aylett.

"There was blood everywhere as a result of two large, curved cuts to the back of Mr MacDonald's head.

"On the floor, by the side of the bed, was a blood-stained fire extinguisher.

"Gareth MacDonald had obviously been struck with the base of the fire extinguisher. He had been struck with such force that he was already dead."

Rycroft, 33, of Rhewl, Holywell, denies murder.

In September 2000, while working for BA, Rycroft had started telling family and friends about a "BA Investment Bond" that was "entirely bogus", said Mr Aylett.

Relatives and friends invested thousands of pounds and all of them lost all or nearly all their money.

In November 2000, Rycroft went on unpaid leave from his job and later resigned claiming falsely he had a cancerous brain tumour, shaving his head to pretend he'd had chemotherapy.

Then Rycroft said he needed expensive medical treatment in Australia.

His brother Paul borrowed pounds 10,000 and handed over pounds 15,000 in all while a family friend contributed pounds 5,000.

Mr Aylett said: "Fund-raising events were organised, collections took place, raffle tickets were sold on the basis that BA had donated free flights.

"All the while, the defendant was travelling the world and living high on hock. Over a period of just over a year he took 11 holidays."

The fraud was exposed when a BA colleague started asking questions about the raffle prizes.

In December 2003 Rycroft admitted 25 charges of obtaining More than pounds 200,000 by deception.

Mr MacDonald had married wife Eirlys in January 2006. She was pregnant with their third daughter when he told her he was gay and had met Rycroft on the internet. He moved out to live with Rycroft in February 2007.

Mr MacDonald began to become suspicious about his lover emptying his bank account after his card was refused in a shop.

He sent Rycroft text messages, saying he was finding it difficult to trust him but still loved him.

Mr MacDonald, a diabetic, was having health problems, the court heard.

During a hospital visit three days before he died, he told a nurse "that his 'coming out' as a gay man had probably been a mistake" and he did not trust his boyfriend.

The day before the murder, the couple travelled from Chester to meet Rycroft's aunt and uncle so Rycroft could pay back pounds 5,000 he owed.

Mr Aylett said they got "preposterously lost" to avoid the meeting and ended up at the Travelodge.

After Mr MacDonald was killed, Rycroft claimed he had gone out to get a glucose monitor for Mr MacDonald, but he had only been away for long enough to have driven round in a circle.

He then told police he left the hotel so Mr MacDonald's brother could secretly hand over some money - but he had been fishing in North Wales at the time.

Later he changed his story again, saying his lover asked him to leave the room so he could have sex with a rent-boy.

Rycroft's fingerprints were found on the fire extinguisher, but he claimed this was because he had been teasing Mr MacDonald with it during "sexual horseplay".

Blood patterns suggested the defendant had struck him once and then again, Mr Aylett told the jury.

He said: "What happened in that hotel room would seem to be a culmination of a series of different factors, not least of which was the desire not to lose face in the eyes of his aunt and uncle."

Mr Aylett said Rycroft had already been prepared to take an "extreme step" - of pretending he had cancer - to get out of difficulties in the past.

The trial was adjourned to today.

CAPTION(S):

Gareth MacDonald (left) was found dead in a Travelodge off the M4 near London (top): his lover Glenn Rycroft (right) is accused of his murder
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2009
Words:845
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