Our dream life in France went sour - husband charged with killing wife tells court
A British man on trial for killing his wife and dumping her body in a French lake has described how the couple's dream of finding happiness abroad turned sour.
Robert Lund and his second wife, Evelyn, bought a retirement home in the remote village of Rayssac, south-west France, as Evelyn's house in England "had bad memories for her" after her first husband died of cancer.
The isolated farmhouse the couple found was "just right," for them, Lund told a court in the southern French town of Montauban today.
"We just thought it would be a nice place to live," he said. "My personal hope was that my wife, she was not happy in England and I hoped it would make her happy.
"When my wife and I moved to France we thought everything would be ideal."
But the reality was different and after a year or so Mrs Lund began to have doubts about staying there, jurors heard.
She fell out with a neighbour, who attacked her during an argument, and "she became of the belief that she didn't want to live there," Lund said.
His wife also had a drinking problem and apparently suffered from depression, he told the court.
"When she drank, she was extremely violent", he said. "I believe that my wife's problem was depression and she drank because of the depression and it's a spiral that's very difficult to get out of."
Turned aggressive by drink on one occasion, she threw a 25cm-long knife at him, he said.
On another occasion she tried to throw herself out of the car they were driving in, the court heard.
Mrs Lund went missing on the night of December 29, 1999 at the age of 52.
Her badly decomposed body was found nearly two years later, slumped on the back seat of her car in Lake Bancalie, about 15 miles from her home.
Lund told police she had been drinking on the night she disappeared and must have lost her way while driving home from visiting friends.
On realising her mistake, he claimed she tried to turn around, lost control of the car and ploughed into the water.
Police questioned Lund at the time but he was not charged in connection with his wife's death until November 2004.
Originally convicted by a court in Albi in the Tarn area of France in 2007, he was retried in 2009 and jailed for 12 years for an offence akin to manslaughter.
He is now being tried for a third time after appealing against the verdict of his second trial on a legal point.
Had he not made another bid to clear his name, he could have been freed from prison in Albi by November 2014.
But if convicted this week, the 59-year-old former tree surgeon from Darwen, Lancashire, faces a hike in his prison sentence.
The case continues.