In the Media

Man convicted of wife's murder for the third time

PUBLISHED December 16, 2011

Evelyn Lund's decomposed body found in car in French lake almost two years after disappearance in 1999

A British man was convicted for the third time of killing his wife, whose decomposed body was found in a French lake almost two years after she disappeared.

The remains of Evelyn Lund were discovered in her car in Lake Bancalie some 22 months after she went missing from the French farmhouse she shared with her second husband Robert Lund in 1999.

Lund had already been convicted twice in connection with her death but appealed on a legal point and was again found guilty of a crime akin to manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Had Lund been acquitted on Friday, he would have received a pay-out from his late wife's life insurance policy and half the value of the marital home in the remote village of Rayssac, south-west France.

His second retrial, held at a court in the southern French town of Montauban, saw a number of witnesses come forward to describe Lund's violent treatment of his wife and his verbal cruelty towards her.

Jurors were also told of his "strange" and "peculiar" behaviour after his wife mysteriously disappeared on 29 December 1999.

Preoccupied with money and his wife's will, he seemed far less concerned about the fact that she was missing, distraught family members said. More than one broke down in tears before the jury as they described how the "tragedy" had affected them.

Earlier, Mrs Lund's brother, Gerard Wilkinson, sobbed as he told the court: "Evelyn's disappearance, not knowing where she was or what had happened, the discovery of the car and the body in the lake, the long investigation and the three trials has been very distressing and has placed an enormous strain on all the family."

And Lund's decision to go for two retrials had only brought them further anguish, he said.

"In almost 12 years we have not been able to come to terms with this tragedy, we've been unable to grieve properly for Evelyn and we've been unable to get on properly with our lives," he added.

Mrs Lund's three daughters, who all came to France for their stepfather's third trial, broke down in tears and hugged each other after the verdict was read out.

Detective superintendent Steve Brunskill of Lancashire Police, a senior officer involved in the British side of the investigation, also attended the trial. He welcomed the result.

"Naturally I'm pleased for the family," he said. "I've been with them from the start of this over the last 12 years and I've seen how they've suffered through three trials, so my first thoughts are with them."

"Going through one trial is hard enough but going through three trials must be unbearable and I can't imagine what that is like," he said. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds