Accountant was murdered by his wife and daughter: Body still missing a decade on from pair's plot to get his money

  • Shirley Banfield, 64, and daughter Lynette, 40, both jailed for life
  • Bookmaker Don Banfield's body is still missing but jurors found pair guilty
  • Prosecutors say killers were 'motivated by greed - they robbed a man of his life purely for monetary gain'
  • Motivated by £120,000 profit from house-sale plus £64,000 pension pot
  • Victim's family beg killers to give full story of Don's death

The callous wife and daughter of a man who went missing over a decade ago were yesterday jailed for life for murdering him for money – even though his body has never been found.

Shirley Banfield, 64, schemed with her daughter Lynette, 40, to kill Donald Banfield and dispose of his body in an audacious plot to get their hands on £123,000 from the sale of the family home and his pension pot.

The 63-year-old former BBC accountant and retired bookmaker mysteriously disappeared in 2001.

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Found guilty: Daughter Lynette Banfield (left) and mother Shirley (right) pictured arriving at court for their verdicts this morning
Found guilty: Daughter Lynette Banfield (left) and mother Shirley (right) pictured arriving at court for their verdicts this morning

Found guilty: Daughter Lynette Banfield (left) and mother Shirley (right) arriving at the Old Bailey this morning. Both have been jailed for life, and have not revealed what they did with the body of Don

He vanished just days after threatening to leave his wife to start a new life and signing a contract to sell the  family home.

Yesterday his wife of 31 years was jailed for life and told she will serve a minimum term of 18 years, while her daughter was locked up for at least 16 years after a jury found them guilty of murder.

Father-of-four Mr Banfield was planning to use his pension and money from the  sale of their semi-detached house in Wealdstone, North West London, to fund his retirement in his native Trinidad.

But he vanished on May 11, 2001.

In the days before his disappearance, he had desperately tried to warn his friends, doctor and even the police that his wife, a retired tax inspector, and his daughter were trying to kill him.

He told his doctor he had woken in the middle of the night to find himself handcuffed to the bed and his legs tied as his wife attempted to suffocate him with a plastic bag. He also told friends he had been hit over the head as he slept and his daughter had tried to spray furniture polish into his eyes.

Suspected murder victim Don Banfield, who disappeared without trace more than a decade ago
Body not found: The jury were satisfied Don Banfield, 63, was murdered by his wife and daughter, despite the lack of a body

Don Banfield as he looked before his death (left), and the police appeal, based off Shirley's claim he had changed his appearance and dyed his hair

On another occasion, his wife produced a knife, shouting: ‘Why don’t you die?’

Mr Banfield begged his son Kevin, 43, to let him move in with him.

Two days before he disappeared Mr Banfield told police his wife and daughter were trying to kill him, but he asked them not to take any action, saying he could  not risk Mrs Banfield knowing he had contacted officers.

Then, within days of his disappearance, his shameless wife and daughter began helping themselves to his £29,000 pension from his time at bookmaker William Hill and a state pension worth £34,000.

Within a few weeks, they had also sold the house, netting £60,000.

Neither reported him missing and it was not until May 19 that his friend Rod McIntosh went to the police.

But Mrs Banfield claimed her husband was a serial womaniser who often left them.

She gave officers a false description, providing a photofit that even her son didn’t recognise, and without a body, the case was dropped.

The mother and daughter’s plot unravelled when Mr Banfield’s former employer William Hill became suspicious about them constantly moving house. When police carried out a routine review of the case in 2009, Mrs Banfield attempted to cover her tracks, insisting her husband had visited over Christmas 2008.

Shirley's home in Canterbury

Shirley and Lynette fled to this home in Canterbury to escape the attention of the police

But police arrested them in February 2010. After being bailed, the pair splashed out £27,000 on a luxury holiday to Grenada.

Detectives later recovered a chilling notebook in which Miss Banfield wrote about murdering a man, killing women with a pitchfork, burying bodies and putting a body in a car.

She wrote that the body had been in the car for only minutes but the smell lingered on, adding: ‘Oh, thank heavens for the scrappage scheme.’

The women’s Ford Fiesta car was compacted as part of the Government’s scheme in 2008.

The mother and daughter were  charged with murder last year.

Yesterday, Mrs Banfield collapsed in the dock as the jury returned guilty verdicts.

The Recorder of London, Judge Peter Beaumont, QC, told her and her daughter: ‘The three aggravating features are premeditation, commission of your offence for gain and concealment of the body.’

The pair had already admitted conspiracy to defraud, forgery and perverting the course of justice. Detectives still have no idea what happened to Mr Banfield.

They dug up the garden of his former home in 2009, but nothing was found.

Police plan to speak to his wife and daughter in prison to see whether they will reveal the location of his body.

Metropolitan Police photos of Shirley Banfield (left) and daughter Lynette, who are now starting life sentences for the murder of Don Banfield

Metropolitan Police photos of Shirley Banfield (left) and daughter Lynette, who are now starting life sentences for the murder of Don Banfield

In an extraordinary twist, it can now be revealed that Mrs Banfield’s brother, Kenneth Hagon, worked as a grave digger.

Though there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by him, police said they plan to revisit the ‘line of inquiry’ which could lead to graves Mr Hagon worked on being exhumed in the continuing hunt for the body.

Mr Hagon declined to comment yesterday. His partner Audrey Harrison said she found the case ‘disturbing’.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Banfield’s sister Kay Hackett said: ‘When Don went missing in May 2001, a wave of shock ran through his closest and extended family.

‘Not knowing where he was and whether he was alive was a constant ache in everyone’s hearts.

‘His mother, Irene, sadly died knowing that he was missing, longing for news of his safe return.’  Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Howard Groves said: ‘Shirley and Lynette’s actions were driven by pure greed, and the evidence to support this is overwhelming.

‘They have consistently deceived the police and other agencies in a bid to cover their tracks.’

Yesterday Donald Banfield’s first wife Lucille described Shirley Banfield as a manipulative liar.

She told the Daily Mail: ‘She was always scheming and lying. It didn’t surprise me that she killed him.

‘The last thing Don told his friend Rod McIntosh was, “Do not let them get away with my murder”.’

£27,000 Caribbean jaunt as net closed on killers

Living in a leafy parish just outside Canterbury, Shirley and Lynette Banfield attracted little attention.
Living as virtual recluses, they were only ever seen tending the garden and leaving the house to go out shopping.

But behind their closed curtains on Ashford Road, Canterbury, the remorseless pair were busy spending the proceeds of their crime, splashing out on luxury Caribbean holidays and getting a thrill out of stealing clothes and jewellery.

Police were astonished to find their home packed full of clothes, perfume, make-up and costume jewellery, all still with the store tags on.

Officers believe they indulged in daily shoplifting sprees, even though they had no friends or boyfriends to show their  ill-gotten clothes off to. Also, significantly, not one photograph of Donald Banfield was found in the property.

After killing her husband, Mrs Banfield had to apply to the High Court to get her share of their house in Wealdstone, North West London, as her husband had failed to sign vital transfer deeds.

The compulsive liar persuaded the court by saying her daughter was pregnant by her boyfriend of six years, even though Miss Banfield had never been allowed by her controlling mother to have a boyfriend.

Shirley (right) and Lynette Banfield, on trial  in London accused of killing Shirley's husband, 63-year-old retired bookmaker Don Banfield

Shirley (right) and Lynette Banfield, arriving at court at an earlier appearance

Mrs Banfield ploughed the proceeds into property.

She capitalised on the boom by buying and selling homes in Whitby, Yorkshire, then York, before buying a four-bedroom detached home in Canterbury outright, with a further £150,000 left in the bank.

Her daughter, who formerly worked for the Department for Work and Pensions, knew how to forge documents to drain her father’s pensions.

The constant moves may have warded off questioning by prying neighbours, but Miss Banfield nearly gave the game away when she went to see her GP, claiming she had attempted suicide and citing a family trauma.

Panicked, Mrs Banfield accompanied Miss Banfield on visits to mental health staff, falsely claiming to be her aunt and making sure her daughter said nothing.

When police later questioned them on suspicion of murder in 2009,  Mrs Banfield continued to lie, saying she had seen her husband a few months earlier and insisting she had to get back home to feed her cockatiel.

But beneath her cool exterior, she  was worried.

When the pair were released on bail after their arrest in 2010, Mrs Banfield tried to sell their house, telling an estate agent she would accept just £250,000 for the home – worth an estimated £390,000 – if it could be sold within 36 hours.

The pair then lavished £27,000 on a luxury Caribbean holiday, flying first class to Grenada where they spent their four weeks drinking cocktails, enjoying spa treatments and soaking up the sun in a five-star resort.

Video: Statements from Kay Hackett and DCI Howard Groves


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