Asked about a ‘missing hour’ a Rugby man accused of killing his estranged wife told a jury he had pulled up in his car because he was upset about having missed his mother’s funeral.
It has been alleged that Owen Williams had taken a detour on his way home from shopping in Rugby town centre to go his wife Shana Cover’s home and brutally murder her.
Ms Cover was found a week later, slumped against the sofa in the living room of her flat in Morton Gardens, Rugby, with her neck ‘almost completely severed.’
Williams, 50, of Grizedale, Brownsover, Rugby, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to murdering 34-year-old Ms Cover in August last year.
It is believed Ms Cover, who worked at the Hospital of St Cross and was also doing a degree at Coventry University, was killed on August 14, although her body was not found until a week later.
She had been at her home to sign for a parcel at just after 3pm, and her last phone call that day ended at 5.34pm.
“The prosecution case is that within minutes of that she was dead. Her attacker had almost completely severed her head from her body,” said prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith.
That day Williams had been at work as a chef at the Bell and Barge Harvester in Leicester Road until about 3pm, after which CCTV evidence showed he drove into Rugby town centre.
After visiting various shops, he returned to his car at 4.40pm and drove along a route covered by a number of cameras which showed him close to a junction with Murray Road at 4.43pm.
It is alleged that if he had taken the turning he would have been picked up by another camera – which did not pick up his car until 5.52pm.
And Mr Grieves-Smith said the prosecution case was that in that time he had instead driven to nearby Morton Gardens where he killed Ms Cover and showered before resuming his journey home.
As Williams began to give evidence in the fifth week of the trial, his barrister Michael Duck QC asked him bluntly: “Are you responsible for the death of Shana Cover or not?”
Williams replied: “No I am not.”
Explaining the background to their relationship, he told the jury he had met a woman called Yvonne Rose ‘back in Jamaica in the late 90s’ and began a relationship with her in about 1999.
Ms Rose came to the UK, and he then followed, and they were in a relationship until some time in 2005 when they split up.
But they remained friends and, as he had ‘invested quite a bit in her property to do it up,’ she re-mortgaged it to help him put a deposit on his home in Grizedale.
Williams said he met Ms Cover, not realising she was in fact Ms Rose’s daughter, when he went to do some research in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2006.
“I met her in a place I had gone in to eat, and she was there with some of her work colleagues.”
They kept in contact after he returned to Rugby, and they began a relationship when he went to see her four months later, after which he sent her regular sums of money until they married in Jamaica in September 2007.
“I came back to the UK and had to file an application for her through the embassy. There were some difficulties with her visa, and at the time it was rejected, so I had to appeal. It took a year for her to be able to come over in November 2008.”
He said the first he knew Ms Cover was Ms Rose’s daughter was later than month after Ms Rose went to his home while he was out and saw Ms Cover there.
Williams said Ms Cover moved out in March last year, and he had helped her find her new flat, giving her £700 towards the deposit, and told her she could have any furniture she wanted, which he then took to the flat.
“I think we maintained a good relationship, in terms of we would still keep in touch. There were occasions when she would phone and I would tell her what I was cooking and she asked me to take some round for her, and I did.”
Asked whether he had come to terms with the fact that the relationship between them was over, he replied: “Yes, that’s why I had moved in and started another relationship.”
Williams said his mother died on his birthday in July last year and, asked whether he would have wished to attend her funeral, he said: “It would have been a way to honour her, but I couldn’t get to go.”
On the day before it is believed Ms Cover was killed, Williams said he had opened a letter addressed to her, so had taken it to Morton Gardens and dropped it in her mail box.
He said he did not ring the bell because he believed she had gone to Manchester to visit her aunt there.
Then on August 14, after finishing work, he drove into the town centre because ‘there were a few bits I needed to get between Argos and Poundland,’ including a landline phone, a pair of binoculars which were on offer, toiletries and grass seed.
Mr Duck pointed out that CCTV cameras showed he left the town and drove along North Street and down Clifton Road at 4.43pm, past the junction with Bath Street where his BMW was picked up by a camera at Lawrence Sheriff School.
He was heading towards the roundabout at the junction with Murray Road – but the next image was of his car in Murray Road and turning into Craven Road an hour and nine minutes later.
Asked to explain the gap, Williams denied he had first gone straight on to get to Morton Gardens.
He told the jury: “I take the left down Murray Road. I carry on a little way, and then I stop.
“I stopped because I was in a state frame of mind at the time because I didn’t get a chance to go to my mother’s funeral, which became a pressure on me that I didn’t get a chance as the eldest son to see her one last time.
“I was sent pictures of the funeral on the Sunday. I was crying; I just felt quite emotional.
“As well, when I had gone home earlier before I went into town I came across a letter from the Legal Aid over another matter to say I had missed a payment of £1,700.
“I didn’t have that money and there were some outstanding fees from a county court case.”
Asked whether he could say how long he sat in his car in Murray Road before continuing home, Williams replied: “No, I wasn’t concentrating on the time at the moment.”
The trial continues.