A cheating tradie who killed his cancer-stricken wife by careening their car into a river after proposing to his masseuse lover has lost his sentence appeal.
Edward Kenneth Lord was jailed for eight years in February for the manslaughter of Michelle Lord in October 2015 when he drove into the Tweed River in northern NSW during an argument.
During his appeal in April, the concreter argued the judge had overlooked the significance of him snatching his wife of 25 years from the sinking vehicle.
But on Monday a panel of three judges dismissed the appeal in the NSW Supreme Court, unanimously agreed that while the killing was ‘spontaneous and momentary, it was an … unlawful and dangerous act,’ The Daily Telegraph reported.
The court heard the 56-year-old persuaded his wife to let his lover, Malaysian masseuse Siew Ping ‘Margaret’ Fong, live in their Gold Coast home as a housekeeper.
He argued Ms Fong could help out with chores following Mrs Lord’s battle with breast cancer.
The 57-year-old grew increasingly suspicious of his relationship with their ‘housemaid’ and hired a divorce lawyer.
She also approached police over fears he had put a sleeping tablet in her wine so he could have sex with Ms Fong, and told a friend she’d given Lord an ultimatum that they seek marriage counselling or she would leave him.
The scorned wife also spoke of his tendency to become angry and occasionally react spontaneously and aggressively by punching walls and yelling.
In an attempt to salvage their marriage, the couple decided to drive to Byron Bay but quickly began fighting.
Lord flew into a rage following an argument on the way back to the Gold Coast and veered into the river.
The tradesman managed to escape the vehicle and went back underwater unsuccessfully to save his wife – a point lawyers on Monday claimed the sentencing judge Justice Ian Harrison had overlooked.
‘He should get some benefit for the fact that he had done everything he could to retrieve, to save, his wife,’ lawyers argued.
But Justice Peter Garling stood by the initial sentence and said there wasn’t enough evidence to determine how the rescue attempt happened.
‘Did he go back to rescue the deceased immediately he was freed from the vehicle? Did he do so in sufficient time before the vehicle was completely submerged and sank to the bottom of the river? Or, did he do so having waited for some short period of time? Did he do so at the earliest time he thought he possibly could? These are all questions to which answers were not supplied in the evidence,’ Justice Garling said.
In February’s sentencing, Justice Harrison agreed Lord did not intend to kill his wife.
‘The driving into the river was an intentional but spontaneous act carried out purely to vent his rage,’ he said, citing the agreed facts.
‘It carried an appreciable risk of serious injury to Ms Lord but he had no intention to do her serious bodily harm or to cause her death.’
Lord originally told police Ms Fong was ‘simply the housekeeper’, his marriage had been happy and the car’s wheel had slipped while ‘we were driving along having a laugh’.
Ms Lord’s brother Graham Flatman said her family had long desired the truth after enduring years of unanswered questions.
‘We have learnt the truth and to learn her husband, a man we all knew and considered to be part of our family, was complicit in Michele’s passing, has made this entire ordeal such an overwhelming and confronting experience,’ Mr Flatman said outside court.
The family hoped the ‘happy, trusting, loving’ woman’s death was not in vain.
‘It is our hope that anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances as Michele will find the strength to reach out and confide in all the amazing services out there,’ Mr Flatman said.
Lord told a psychologist of his remorse over what happened.
He described his wife as ‘one in a million, can never be replaced … she was my lover, soulmate, best friend … she’ll be in my heart forever’.
But the judge found Lord had failed to demonstrate remorse, noting words offered to a sympathetic clinician, far removed from public scrutiny, were a ‘somewhat feeble substitute’ to entering the witness box.
‘In my experience, genuine remorse is difficult to suppress and easy to express,’ Justice Harrison said.