Wife, 44, shot dead by husband who learned of affair - court told
A husband shot and killed his wife after learning of her secret affair, a court heard.
David Leeman, 60, murdered his 44-year-old wife Jennie by shooting her five times with a semi-automatic pistol in a barn at their farm in Devon, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Their marriage was already on the rocks when Mrs Leeman, who had two sons and two daughters with the defendant, started seeing another man, Norman Laramy, 40.
In July last year – after just a month together – Mr Laramy moved into a converted barn at the Leemans’ farm at Parracombe, near Barnstaple, and continued seeing Mrs Leeman.
When the defendant found out about his wife’s affair – just six days before he shot her – she left Higher Cowley Farm and moved in with Mr Laramy. The jury of seven men and five women were told that Mrs Leeman was shot dead at around 5.30pm on September 18 last year.
Leeman, of Higher Cowley Farm, Parracombe, North Devon, denies murder but has admitted manslaughter through loss of control – a plea rejected by the prosecution.
He has, however, pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon – the gun he used to shoot his wife.
Jurors were told Mrs Leeman had gone to the farm, accompanied by Mr Laramy and two of his children, to return her eight-year-old daughter to her father.
Leeman had asked his wife to accompany him to his office for a two-minute chat and they were then seen walking towards a barn.
Mr Laramy then heard raised voices, Mrs Leeman screaming and then gunshots.
Geoffrey Mercer QC, prosecuting, said: “He (Leeman) shot her (his wife) with a semi-automatic pistol.
“The magazine was loaded with five bullets and the defendant shot her five times – emptying the magazine – at close range to her chest area.
“She would have died very quickly. The prosecution say that this defendant is guilty of murder.
“This happened against the background of the breakdown of their marriage and Jennie Leeman forming a relationship with another man.”
He said Mrs Leeman started having a relationship with Mr Laramy in about July, adding: “By that stage there were clearly difficulties in her marriage to the defendant and there were clearly difficulties with her relationship with her two sons.”
He said Mr Laramy moved into a converted barn on the farm and his relationship with Mrs Leeman developed or continued without the defendant’s knowledge.
“Jennie Leeman had told the defendant that she was leaving him and they agreed that she would move to Bratton Fleming with the two daughters,” Mr Mercer said.
He explained that matters came to a head in the week running up to Mrs Leeman’s death when one of her sons overheard a telephone conversation between his mother and Mr Laramy and realised they were having an affair.
“Emotions were running high,” Mr Mercer said.
“The defendant said that Jennie had not been happy for a number of years and if it had not been him it would have been someone else.”
The court was told that Leeman’s solicitor wrote to Mrs Leeman about a divorce and proposals for a financial settlement.
Mr Mercer said that Mrs Leeman died when she returned to the farm on the Sunday afternoon when her husband asked her for a quick chat.
“She went with him into the barn, and in fact to her death, unaware he had a loaded gun with him,” the prosecutor said.
“Mr Laramy heard arguing and screaming, then a gunshot and then further gunshots.”
Mr Mercer said Mr Laramy told his two sons to run to a neighbouring house to raise the alarm and he then ran to the barn. The defendant came out of the barn with the gun in his hand.
“Mr Laramy went into the barn and saw she was dead. When he came out he was confronted by the defendant. The defendant pointed the gun at him and said: ‘It should have been you first’.”
Leeman’s eldest son, Rene, from his first marriage, pushed the gun away and Mr Laramy ran off to call the emergency services.
When Leeman was arrested, he told police: “I did it. She would just not listen.
“I shot the woman I loved because she didn’t do what I wanted.”
The court heard the family moved to the farm from Northampton in the late-1990s.
But Mr Laramy, a father-of-four, said that Mrs Leeman told him she wanted to leave her husband after discovering Mr Leeman had cheated on her 14 years ago when she was pregnant, Mr Mercer said.
Leeman had bought the gun illegally for “protection” and when he moved to Devon he hid it in a wall inside the farmhouse.
During the week of Mrs Leeman’s death, Leeman had gone and found it.
“The prosecution’s case is that when he went into the barn with Jennie he had this gun loaded with him,” Mr Mercer said.
“He had armed himself with it and he took it out of his pocket and shot her repeatedly.”
Mr Mercer explained that Leeman’s defence centred on “loss of control” at the time he killed his wife.
“The prosecution case is that the defendant shot her having armed himself with a loaded gun, intending at the time he did it to kill her,” Mr Mercer said, adding: “He is guilty of murder.”
The trial continues.