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Murderer's life term slashed; Husband-killer's lover to serve 12 years.

Byline: By BRENDA HICKMAN Crime Repoter

SCHEMING husband-killer Valerie Brown's toy-boy lover will only serve 12 years behind bars.

Mentally impaired Simon Wright, 32, was like "putty in her hands" when he carried out the killing of Brown's first husband, a court heard.

Brown, 53, of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, organised the 2002 killing of her then husband Michael Wood.

Now an Appeal Court has slashed her lover's life term to a 12-year tariff before he can be eligible for parole.

Wright was said to have been besotted by his older mistress, femme fatale Brown. After her attempts to poison her 48-year-old husband failed, she encouraged Wright to go to a storage yard, in Challock, Kent, where Mr Wood worked as a security guard.

There, on July 7, 2002, Wright unleashed a knife attack of such savagery that 28 separate wounds were inflicted and the blade of the kitchen knife broke in the process.

Wright was convicted of murder at Maidstone Crown Court in November 2003 and jailed for life. The judge recommended he serve at least 14 years.

As the Chronicle revealed, Brown kept the secret that she arranged her former husband's mur-der from her second husband. But when detectives came to her North East home to arrest her - three years after her former husband was stabbed to death - the game was up.

Brown of Netherton Close, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, is now serving a life term after being convicted of the murder at Maidstone Crown Court.

Det Chief Insp Anne Brittain of Kent Police said after the case: "We always suspected Brown was involved in the murder, but at the time there was insufficient evidence to put before a court."

Brown's husband Ian was in court to see her jailed. Her other relatives, including her mother, who also lives in County Durham, stayed away.

"Brown knew exactly what she was doing in manipulating her then boyfriend to kill Mr Wood," added DCI Brittain.

After reviewing the case at London's Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Grigson slashed Wright's minimum jail tariff to 12 years - because of Brown's malign influence over him.

Brown, who herself has learning difficulties, was told she would have to serve at least 16 years.

Mr Justice Grigson said Wright, who suffers from "significant intellectual impairment," met Brown 18 months before the killing She told her lover Mr Wood had abused her and he had to be killed.

Wright gave evidence against Brown last year and the judge at her trial, Mr Justice Fulford, said he would have been "extremely malleable" in her hands and, had their paths never crossed, he would never have got involved in any crime, let alone murder.

He told Brown: "You put the idea of the killing in his cynically organised the offence."

Mr Justice Grigson said the murder had been "ferocious and premeditated" and, under current sentencing guidelines, the starting point for fixing Wright's minimum term would have been 15 years.

However, after taking into account Mr Justice Fulford's comments when passing sentence, he fixed Wright's minimum term at 12 years. After time spent on remand is taken into account, Wright can apply for parole in 2014. However, he will only be freed if he can persuade the Parole Board he poses no serious public danger and will remain on life licence.


FEMME FATALE: Valerie Brown manipulated her toy boy lover to kill her husband
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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