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Man accused of murdering wife felt 'stitched up', court told

An estranged husband murdered his wealthy wife and buried her body on Queen Elizabeth's Windsor Estate after their "bitterly contested" divorce descended into acrimony over a pre-nuptial agreement, a court heard yesterday.

Robert Brown (47) felt he had been "stitched up" by the marriage contract which he signed when he married Joanna in January 1999, the court heard.

After convincing himself that the 46 year old had deliberately concealed the extent of her finances, the British Airways pilot attacked her last year, before placing her in a grave in a remote spot where she might never have been found, the court heard.

Opening the case at Reading Crown Court, prosecutor Graham Reeds QC said the pre-nuptial agreement had caused Brown "continuing resentment".

By 2007 their relationship had fallen apart and "divorce proceedings were, by any standard, acrimonious and bitterly contested," he said.

"First there were disputes over children and then over money," he told the court.

The marital home, Tun Cottage, in Ascot, Berkshire, was by then worth "a considerable sum", but ownership was in Mrs Brown's name -- despite the fact that the defendant had spent some £200,000 (€227,000) on extensions and renovations at the property which was used as an upmarket bed and breakfast, the court heard.

The pre-nuptial agreement also gave Brown no claim over his wealthy wife's trust fund which had been set up by her family, the court heard.

"It was an agreement that the defendant referred to later as a 'stitch-up' and he particularly resented the thought that Jo and her lawyers intended to rely on that agreement to foist on him what he thought was a particularly unfair settlement in the divorce proceedings," Mr Reeds added.

"The defendant had convinced himself that he had been cheated by her and that their marriage had been a sham," he said.

In one email to his wife, he said Brown had warned: "What goes around comes around".

Brown, of Winkfield, Berkshire, denies murder.

Irish Independent