A husband who knifed his wife to death in their study had installed GPS software on her phone so he could track her movements, her best friend told a court.
Heather Arthur had fallen for the saxophonist in a jazz band she sung with and told Mark, her partner of 30 years, that their relationship was over, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday.
The IT consultant stabbed the 50-year-old former British Airways manager at their home in Gosforth, Newcastle, last April.
The 50-year-old denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of loss of control.
His wife’s best friend Rebecca Parker told Newcastle Crown Court Mrs Arthur had confided with her about the state of her marriage and her controlling husband’s behaviour.
“He installed GPS tracking on her mobile phone,” she said. “He said it was so he could track where she was. Heather was not happy about it at all.”
Arthur, said to spend hours alone in the house he inherited, offered to put the same technology on his phone so his wife could check up on him, Mrs Parker said.
Her friend decided to remove the programme from her phone, the witness said.
Arthur and his wife were together for around 20 years before they married, having met at Kingston University, and his proposal frightened her when he climbed over the railings at Niagara Falls, Mrs Parker told the court.
“Apparently he stepped over the railings, down into the mist, onto the rocks, and turned to her and proposed,” she said. “In her mind (she thought) ‘Oh my God, what will he do if I say no’? So she said yes.
“I think she thought he would throw himself into the water or something. She felt pressure to say yes because of the situation.”
Mrs Arthur, who was privately-educated and grew up on the Isle of Wight, had left him for another man before they were married, but he pursued her and won her back.
In October 2012, Mrs Arthur confided with her friend that her husband was “threatening to break things and hurt himself” if she did not do as he wanted.
By Easter last year, Mrs Arthur had decided to leave him and was speaking to a solicitor about the separation. Her friend was supporting her through the process, she said. He tried to follow her to her one appointment, and Mrs Arthur had to lose him by hiding in a shopping centre, the friend said.
Mrs Arthur had by this stage fallen for another man, Paul Gowland, who played in her band, the court heard.
Mrs Parker did not want to know the details, she told the court, but said her friend had told her she now knew what a relationship could be like. “She had met someone who she had realised was a loving, caring, kind person who valued her and respected her.
“She realised she didn’t have that with Mark and she didn’t want any more of that.”
Mrs Parker said her friend told her Arthur had come to accept the break-up, and begged her to go for one final day-trip.
“Instinctively, I just thought something was wrong so I was very worried about her so I asked her to text me so I knew she was I OK,” she told the court.
The next day she was killed, the court heard.
The trial continues.