A HUSBAND who bludgeoned his postmistress wife to death and then blamed an armed robber was jailed for life yesterday after a jury scoffed at his "ludicrous story".
Softly-spoken Robin Garbutt's marriage to Diana (40) seemed happy to outsiders, but he knew she had been unfaithful and feared his theft of thousands of pounds from the post office they ran was about to be discovered.
A jury at Teesside Crown Court rejected his story that a raider with a gun told him "don't do anything stupid, we've got your wife" before robbing him as he worked, and that moments later he discovered her body in bed in the living quarters of The Village Shop and Post Office in North Yorkshire last March.
He was jailed for life and will serve at least 20 years before parole can be considered.
The couple had discussed splitting and Garbutt faced a future with no assets as what they had was in his wife's name.
Mr Justice Charles Openshaw, sentencing, said Garbutt's version of events was a "ludicrous story from beginning to end".
He added: "He has always accompanied his lies with sanctimonious protests of his love for her. This was a brutal, cold-blooded murder of his wife as she lay sleeping in bed."
The judge believed the murder was motivated by Garbutt's fear of being exposed for stealing from the Post Office.
It was significant that his wife had been looking at the business accounts on the night he killed her, as she may have confronted him with the theft over months of thousands of pounds from the safe.
Garbutt (45) planned the murder with a metal bar.
"There was no struggle, she never awoke," the judge said.
Garbutt hid the weapon, then opened shop as normal and dealt with 60 customers without cracking.
During a lull, and after the safe had been opened, Garbutt dialled 999 and claimed his wife had been attacked, crying hysterically.
He told police a raider had robbed him and when he ran upstairs his wife was motionless, face down on the bed.
His story unravelled after officers delved into the secrets of his seemingly happy marriage.