A man who killed his wife within hours of their wedding has been found guilty of her murder.
The body of grandmother Dawn Walker, 52, was found in a field inside suitcase four days after she married Thomas Nutt on October 27, 2021.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Nutt, 45, killed Ms Walker shortly after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their West Yorkshire home.
Jurors were told that Nutt, who did not give evidence in the trial, admitted to the manslaughter of his wife on the basis that ‘he did not intend to cause her really serious harm at the time at which he killed her’.
Forensic pathologist Dr Kirsten Hope said she received Ms Walker’s body in the black fabric wheeled suitcase that she was found in.
Ms Walker’s legs were distorted, her right leg was twisted and her body was bent over with her face towards the wheels, the court heard.
But on Wednesday, a jury found him guilty of murder after three hours of deliberation. There were cheers in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.
He claimed he attacked her because she told him she wanted a divorce and was going to falsely accuse him of rape.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Alistair MacDonald QC told jurors: ‘It is often said that someone’s wedding day, and the period immediately following, is one of the happiest times of their life.’
He said that this was not the case for Ms Walker ‘because her body was found stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into some undergrowth in a field towards the back of this defendant’s house four days after she was married’.
Mr MacDonald told the court that Nutt rang police on October 31 telling them his wife had gone missing after leaving their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, that morning, and he appeared to mount a search.
The prosecutor said the ‘hard and stark reality’ was that the defendant ‘knew perfectly well that her body was lying dead in a cupboard at the marital home’.
Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Nutt wheeling a large suitcase out of the back of his house and into nearby bushes just as a police officer arrives at his front door to follow up the defendant’s missing person report.
Mr MacDonald said Nutt then handed himself in to a police station and told officers he and Ms Walker had been on a two-day caravan honeymoon, staying in a layby at Skegness.
The prosecutor said the defendant told police: ‘We came back and she has got bipolar and is depressed, said she wanted to get divorced.
‘She put me in jail before, said I had tried raping and assaulting her.
‘Said she was going to do it again. She started screaming and I have hit her in the face and put my arm round her neck.’
Mr MacDonald said it was the prosecution case that Nutt went to Skegness alone, having killed his wife on their wedding night or the day after, and left her body in the house.
The prosecutor said Nutt returned to act out the ‘ghastly charade’ of telling her daughter she was missing and carrying out a search.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the defendant and Ms Walker arriving at the Prince Albert pub in Brighouse for a reception 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 ‘troubled’ relationship.
He said one neighbour described Ms Walker, who had three daughters, as ‘chirpy and energetic’.
This neighbour, the lawyer added, had said that in 2020 she had seen her with a ‘massive’ black eye and cuts to her face.
The prosecutor said this neighbour remembers that the defendant was sent to prison after these injuries appeared but the couple resumed living together once he was released.
He said: ‘She (the neighbour) recollects that Dawn and the defendant argued quite often during this period – one minute they were loved-up and the next they would be arguing.
‘She had never seen the defendant actually administer any physical violence to Dawn but she had heard arguing coming from the house and Dawn calling out: ‘Tommo, get off me’.’
Nutt will be sentenced on August 19.
Judge Jonathan Rose told him he would face a life sentence, with a minimum term to be set on that date.
Detective Inspector Amanda Wimbles of the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, who led the investigation, said:
‘We welcome the verdict of the jury today and our immediate thoughts are of course with Dawn’s family who have shown such bravery and strength throughout the investigation and trial.
‘They lost Dawn in such tragic circumstances shortly after her wedding and the whole family miss her dearly. They have had to deal with the cruel and callous manner in which Thomas Nutt disposed of her body, which is something that will always be with them.
‘We hope that this guilty verdict for murder will provide at least some small measure of comfort to all those who loved her.
‘We now await Thomas Nutt’s sentencing for the crime he has committed.’