A man who killed his wife within hours of their wedding and stuffed her body into a suitcase has been found guilty of her murder.
The body of grandmother Dawn Walker, 52, was found in a field four days after she married Thomas Nutt on October 27 last year.
Bradford Crown Court heard Nutt, 45, killed Ms Walker shortly after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their West Yorkshire home.
Jurors were told that Nutt, who did not give evidence in the trial, admitted the manslaughter of his wife on the basis that “he did not intend to cause her really serious harm at the time at which he killed her”.
But on Wednesday, a jury found him guilty of murder after three hours of deliberation. There were cheers in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told jurors: “It is often said that someone’s wedding day, and the period immediately following, is one of the happiest times of their life.”
He said that this was not the case for Ms Walker “because her body was found stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into some undergrowth in a field towards the back of this defendant’s house four days after she was married”.
Mr MacDonald told the court that Nutt rang police on October 31 telling them his wife had gone missing after leaving their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, that morning, and he appeared to mount a search.
The prosecutor said the “hard and stark reality” was that the defendant “knew perfectly well that her body was lying dead in a cupboard at the marital home”.
Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Nutt wheeling a large suitcase out of the back of his house and into nearby bushes just as a police officer arrives at his front door to follow up the defendant’s missing person report.
Mr MacDonald said Nutt then handed himself in to a police station and told officers he and Ms Walker had been on a two-day caravan honeymoon, staying in a layby at Skegness.
The prosecutor said the defendant told police: “We came back and she has got bipolar and is depressed, said she wanted to get divorced.
“She put me in jail before, said I had tried raping and assaulting her.
“Said she was going to do it again. She started screaming and I have hit her in the face and put my arm round her neck.”
(A neighbour) recollects that Dawn and the defendant argued quite often during this period – one minute they were loved-up and the next they would be arguing
Alistair MacDonald QC
Mr MacDonald said it was the prosecution case that Nutt went to Skegness alone, having killed his wife on their wedding night or the day after, and left her body in the house.
The prosecutor said Nutt returned to act out the “ghastly charade” of telling her daughter she was missing and carrying out a search.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the defendant and Ms Walker arriving at the Prince Albert pub in Brighouse for a reception after their wedding at Brighouse Register Office.
Mr MacDonald said witnesses described how Nutt and Ms Walker had been together for a number of years but had a “troubled” relationship.
He said one neighbour described Ms Walker, who had three daughters, as “chirpy and energetic”.
This neighbour, the lawyer added, had said that in 2020 she had seen her with a “massive” black eye and cuts to her face.
The prosecutor said this neighbour remembers that the defendant was sent to prison after these injuries appeared but the couple resumed living together once he was released.
He said: “She (the neighbour) recollects that Dawn and the defendant argued quite often during this period – one minute they were loved-up and the next they would be arguing.
“She had never seen the defendant actually administer any physical violence to Dawn but she had heard arguing coming from the house and Dawn calling out: ‘Tommo, get off me’.”
Mr MacDonald said another neighbour described going round to the house two months before the wedding after he “had never heard such screaming coming from a woman before”.
He said Nutt told the neighbour that Ms Walker was having an asthma attack but that she shouted: “Don’t believe him, he’s lying, he’s trying to kill me.”
The prosecutor said an examination of Ms Walker’s body showed that she had suffered significant neck injuries which indicated there had been “a forceful application of pressure to her neck”.
Nutt will be sentenced on August 19.
Judge Jonathan Rose told him he would face a life sentence, with a minimum term to be set on that date.