Former police office Darren McKie faces life in prison after being found guilty of murdering his wife DC Leanne McKie when she discovered his debts
A remorseless police inspector has today been found guilty of murdering his wife and dumping her body in a lake.
Darren McKie, 43, killed Leanne, 39, a detective constable, when she found out he had been taking out huge loans in her name and spent it on holidays, cars and his luxury lifestyle.
McKie pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter part way through his trial at Chester Crown Court but today a jury convicted him of murder on their second day of deliberations.
Police said he had shown ‘no remorse’ and ‘no regret’ after killing his wife and set out to frustrate their murder investigation.
In a statement, Mrs McKie’s heartbroken parents Ray and Ellen Dodd said: ‘Justice has been served today. Our lives will never be the same again. There are no winners in this trial. We have lost our beautiful daughter and our grandchildren have lost their beloved mummy.
‘We would like to thank our family and friends for their love and support they have given us through these tragic times. Also Leanne’s friends and her colleagues from work for all their kind words.
‘We cannot thank Cheshire Police enough for all their hard work and dedication.
‘Last of all we would like to thank our two liaison officers for their professionalism and guidance through these last six months we are so grateful.’
Darren McKie, 43, murdered his wife Leanne, 39, after she discovered he was taking out loans in her name
McKie, 43, his wife Leanne, 39, and their three young children were said by friends to be ‘the perfect family’ – but he was a manipulative killer
Leanne’s father Ray Dodd (right) listens as his statement paying tribute to his daughter was read outside Chester Crown Court
Leanne, a much-loved mother of three, was found dead in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on September 29 last year.
The jury found him guilty of murder by a majority of 11 to one on Friday after deliberating for nine hours and five minutes.
Leanne confronted her husband about his debt – and attempts to take out multiple loans – so he killed the mother of his three children
McKie, wearing a navy blue suit and tie, closed his eyes briefly as the verdict was read out.
Both his family and his wife’s parents were in court for the verdict, along with a number of friends.
McKie’s mother was in tears after the jury returned their verdict. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.
Senior crown prosecutor Rachael Barber said: ‘Darren McKie went behind his wife’s back to apply for loans in her name and when she confronted him, he murdered her.
‘Having admitted killing his wife during the trial, McKie stated he had not intended to cause her really serious harm or take her life.
‘The weight of evidence showed this to be another lie and the jury convicted him of murder.
‘Leanne was clearly a wonderful mother, daughter, friend and colleague.
‘His actions have deprived three children of their mother and our thoughts are with her family at this time.’
McKie, 43, his wife Leanne, 39, and their three young children were said by friends to be ‘the perfect family’.
But their perilous financial situation was putting them under strain before McKie killed his wife, jurors at Chester Crown Court heard.
Mrs McKie found out about her husband’s latest loan application – for which the court heard he had sent off their passports in secret and obtained details of her earnings by ‘subterfuge’ – on September 27 last year.
McKie allegedly applied for £54,000 from lender Fluent Finance despite previous assurances to his wife.
In an angry text, she wrote: ‘You liar. Just got back a loan application with my passport and my name. WTF.’
The jury was told they had spent £63,000 on renovations to their four-bedroom home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in the months leading up to her death, including £3,500 on a granite kitchen worktop, and went on a £4,500 holiday to Portugal that summer.
Nicholas Power QC, prosecuting, said: ‘She then searched ‘Fluent Money’ on the internet and sent another message saying: ‘I asked you and you promised. Fluent Finance? Who are they? Are we in such a mess? Why again? The kids need clothes and shoes, what’s going on (?)’.’
Darren McKie, pictured after his arrest, has never shown any remorse or said what happened on the day she died
Mr Power said McKie, who was at work at Stretford Police Station in Greater Manchester, ignored calls from his wife but sent a text saying, ‘I’m coming home.’
Family’s grief as three children have their ‘perfect mummy’ taken away
Darren McKie, 43, admitted the manslaughter of Detective Constable Leanne McKie, nine days into his trial at Chester Crown Court, but on Friday a jury found him guilty of murder.
Her body was found in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on September 29 last year.
In a statement, her parents Ray and Ellen Dodd said: ‘Justice has been served today. Our lives will never be the same again.
‘There are no winners in this trial. We have lost our beautiful daughter and our grandchildren have lost their beloved mummy.’
Half an hour later at around midday, Mr McKie’s white Audi was filmed by CCTV approaching the £435,000 marital home in Wilmslow, Cheshire. He killed his wife soon afterwards, jurors were told.
Mrs McKie, a detective constable in Greater Manchester’s Serious Sexual Offences Unit, was at home because she was on an afternoon shift starting at 3pm. But she never made it to work.
Detective Superintendent Aaron Duggan, of Cheshire Police, said officers had to ‘unpick the lies’ of Darren McKie, 43, as they investigated the death of his wife Leanne, a 39-year-old detective constable, whose body was discovered in Poynton Lake, Cheshire, on September 29 last year.
When McKie was originally interviewed by officers, he told them he had nothing to do with his wife’s death – but nine days into his trial he admitted the manslaughter of the mother-of-three, who was strangled.
Mr Duggan said throughout interviews and court hearings McKie had ‘shown no emotion at all, no remorse, no regret at all for what he’s done’.
The trial heard the couple were more than £100,000 in debt and police believe Mrs McKie’s murder followed an argument after she discovered an application for a £54,000 loan made by McKie in her name.
Mr Duggan said: ‘Darren kept the debt from Leanne, he hid that from her.
‘Leanne found out that he’d been applying for loans in her name and she had no idea, she had no clue he was doing that.’
He said the family lived ‘beyond their means’, but McKie was in charge of the finances.
Mr Duggan said: ‘It would appear he’s quite a controlling character in terms of the relationship around spending and we know from Leanne’s friends and other parents that messages would be sent from Darren to her along the lines of ‘stop spending, no more spending this month until we get paid’.
‘Leanne didn’t know the true picture, she didn’t have a clue of how much debt was owed.’
McKie killed his wife at their £435,000 marital home in Wilmslow, Cheshire (pictured)
He said McKie, who had been a serving police officer for more than 20 years, tried to ‘frustrate the inquiry’ by disposing of crucial evidence, including his trainers, found in a wheelie bin near his Wilmslow home with his wife’s blood on.
He said: ‘Darren’s been holding out, he’s been hoping he could get away with what he’s done and it’s only when we’ve presented the overwhelming evidence during the trial that he’s accepted that there’s nowhere else for him to go other than to admit his guilt.’
McKie first came to the attention of police at 1.30am the day after he killed his wife, when officers patrolling the area because of reported burglaries saw him walking towards Wilmslow.
He told them he was walking to his home nearby, but 45 minutes later the officers saw him again, this time with no shoes on.
They took him home and left him, but returned later that morning and, after her body was discovered, arrested him on suspicion of his wife’s murder.
Mr Duggan said: ‘In this case, had it not been for the actions of two officers on the following morning when they’ve come across Darren, we probably would have lost crucial evidence.’
As McKie chose not to give evidence in his trial, the details of how his wife met her death may never be known.
Mr Duggan said: ‘Obviously I would like Darren to tell us what’s happened, that would be the right thing to do for the case.
‘It would also be the right thing to do for his three children.’