Thomas Nutt called police days after his marriage to Dawn Walker and said she was missing
A man murdered his wife shortly after their marriage – and then stuffed her body in a suitcase.
Thomas Nutt then performed the “ghastly charade” by saying she was gone.
Nutt now faces a life sentence after being convicted of murder.
The body of grandmother Dawn Walker, 52, was found in a field four days after she married Nutt on October 27 last year.
Bradford Crown Court heard how Nutt, 45, killed Ms Walker shortly after their wedding and kept her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their West Yorkshire home.
Nutt had informed the police that his wife had disappeared
The jury was told that Nutt, who did not testify at the trial, admitted to the manslaughter of his wife on the grounds “that at the time he killed her he had no intention of causing her any real serious harm”.
But on Wednesday, after three hours of deliberation, a jury found him guilty of murder. Cheers in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told the jury: “It is often said that a person’s wedding anniversary and the time immediately following is one of the happiest times of their lives.”
He said that this was not the case with Ms Walker “because four days after her marriage her body was stuffed into a suitcase and dumped in a scrub in a field behind this defendant’s home”.
Mr MacDonald told the court that Nutt called the police on October 31 to tell them his wife had disappeared after leaving their home in , Lightcliffe, near Halifax that morning, and he appeared a start search.
The prosecutor said the “harsh and stark reality” was that the defendant “knew full well her body was lying dead in a closet at the marriage home.”
The jury was shown CCTV footage of Nutt rolling a large suitcase out the back of his house into nearby bushes as a police officer arrived at his front door to investigate the suspect’s missing persons report.
Nutt turned himself in to a police station
Mr MacDonald said Nutt then surrendered himself to a police station and told officers he and Ms Walker had been in the caravan on a two-day honeymoon and were staying at a rest stop in Skegness.
Prosecutors said the defendant told police: “We came back and she’s bipolar and depressed, said she wanted a divorce.
“She put me in jail before and said I tried to rape and assault her.
“She said she would do it again. She started screaming and I punched her in the face and put my arm around her neck.”
Mr MacDonald said it was the prosecution’s case that Nutt went to Skegness alone after killing his wife on their wedding night or the day after and leaving her body at the house.
The prosecutor said Nutt returned to play the “ghastly charade” by telling her daughter she was missing and conducting a search.
The jury were shown CCTV footage of the defendant and Mrs Walker arriving for a reception at the Prince Albert Pub in Brighouse 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 “problematic” relationship.
He said a neighbor described Ms Walker, who had three daughters, as “cheeky and energetic”.
That neighbor, the lawyer added, said they saw her in 2020 with a “massive” black eye and lacerations to her face.
The prosecutor said this neighbor remembered the defendant being taken to jail after those injuries occurred, but the couple lived back together after he was released.
He said: “She (the neighbor) recalls that during that time Dawn and the accused argued quite often – one minute they were in love and the next they were arguing.
“She had never seen the defendant actually use physical violence on Dawn, but she had heard an argument coming from the house and Dawn called, ‘Tommo, get off me’.”
“The whole family misses her very much”
Mr MacDonald said another neighbor described going to the house two months before the wedding, having “never heard a woman scream like that before”.
He said Nutt told the neighbor Ms Walker was having an asthma attack but 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 she sustained significant neck injuries, suggesting “intense pressure was applied to her neck”.
Nutt will be sentenced on August 19.
Judge Jonathan Rose told him he faces life imprisonment, with a minimum sentence to be set on that date.
Detective Inspector Amanda Wimbles of the West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Inquiry Team, who led the investigation, said:
“We welcome today’s jury verdict and of course our immediate thoughts are with Dawn’s family who have shown so much bravery and strength throughout the investigation and trial.
“They lost Dawn in such tragic circumstances shortly after their wedding and she is greatly missed by the whole family. They have had to confront the cruel and callous manner in which Thomas Nutt disposed of the body that will always accompany them.
“We hope this murder conviction will bring at least some comfort to those who loved her.
“We are now awaiting the sentencing of Thomas Nutt for the crime he committed.”