UK policeman convicted of murdering WPC fiancée who died after staged car crash

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A policeman from the United Kingdom pleaded guilty to the murder of his fiancée, a female police constable. PC Martin Forshaw, 27, used a steel hammer to bludgeon WPC Claire Howarth, 31, before placing her in her car and staging an accident.

Forshaw's intent had been to convince police that Howarth had died behind the wheel, but officers became suspicious when they found her injuries were severe while the car was virtually undamaged. The trial had been due to start today before Manchester Crown Court but Forshaw confessed to the crime beforehand.

The couple met in 2006 and the next year became engaged in Mexico. They were due to fly to St Lucia on the day of the killing but Forshaw had other plans; he, his lover, and their child were booked on a trip to Disneyland in Paris. An argument broke out and Forshaw used a large steel hammer to hit her, in the same room as her dress and packed suitcases.

He then drove to an isolated patch of moorland, placed her in the driver's seat and executed a crash into a hedge at 50–60 mph. He then dialed 999 and said he had been in a high speed accident. Howarth was found unconscious; she died later that day in a hospital in Bolton.

"It was such a poor attempt to make it look like a crash that both the police and the ambulance service were immediately suspicious, and the severity of Claire's head injuries meant they could not have been caused by such a minor crash," said lead investigator Andy Tattersall of Greater Manchester Police. "That caused us to question Forshaw's account and led us to unravelling this tragic sequence of events."

Forshaw was sentenced to life imprisonment, of which he will serve a minimum of eighteen years.