BREAKING NORTHAMPTON

A 70-year-old man who took to the stand and lied to the jury about killing the woman who had bravely left their abusive marriage has been convicted of murder.

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Michael Raymond Reader, 70, formerly of Booth Rise, Northampton, was found guilty of murdering 63-year-old Marion Price on December 15, 2019, after an eight-week trial at Northampton Crown Court concluded this week.

Over the course of the eight weeks, the jury were told harrowing details about the campaign of abuse Reader had subjected Marion to throughout their marriage, before she finally left him. And only six days after he was ordered to pay her £10,000 as part of the divorce settlement, he shot her dead.

In court, Prosecutor Mary Loram QC, described Reader as a “controlling husband” who carried out the “cold, calculated murder” because he bitterly resented having to pay her the cash. “He was a man obsessed with money,” she said. “He did not want to part with it.”

Throughout their marriage, Reader had controlled and manipulated Marion, belittling her, making derogatory comments about her appearance, and turning the “fun mum” her children knew into someone who was “constantly on edge.”

On one occasion in 2017, Reader had left Marion stranded in London because she’d “embarrassed him” by daring to get up and dance at a Jersey Boys musical, alongside the rest of the West End audience.

On another occasion after their divorce was already in progress, Reader secretly installed a tracker on Marion’s car in order to “keep tabs on her”. 

His controlling and abusive campaign against her culminated on the night of December 15, 2019, when he shot her dead through the window of her car. There was nothing paramedics or members of the public could do.

Reader’s best friend, 61-year-old Stephen Welch, previously of Addlecroft Close, Northampton, was also today found guilty of murder.

Welch played an integral part in the murder of Marion – he helped Reader plan it, helped him track Marion’s movements for months prior to the shooting, and helped him escape after the murder – picking him up and disposing of Reader’s clothes in the River Nene.

Today, the jury convicted both Reader and Welch of murder. They will both be sentenced on Monday, December 21.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Joe Banfield, said: “Michael Reader is a manipulative, controlling bully, who could not stand the fact that Marion Price had escaped his clutches, left him, and was starting to enjoy her life again.

“The campaign of abuse Reader imposed on Marion throughout their marriage caused her to live in almost constant fear. He continuously put her down, ridiculed her, used threats of violence and made her life hell while they were together.

“Reader was a man obsessed with control. When Marion bravely walked out on him, it was too much for him to take and he began tracking her movements. Finally, after being ordered to pay Marion £10,000 as a final divorce settlement, he took the decision to murder her at close range, in cold blood. 

“I am also very happy that Welch has also rightfully been found guilty. Without him, Reader would not have been able to plan Marion’s murder and he should be utterly ashamed of himself for allowing Reader to draw him into such a sickening and calculated plan. 

“This has been a very complex case to investigate with lots of evidence to work through and I am pleased to have it conclude with Reader and Welch likely to spend the rest of their lives behind bars where they belong.

“Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Marion’s family who have come to court every day, showing great courage, strength and resolve. I hope the fact that justice has been served is a small comfort to them and my thoughts will remain with them long into the future.”

Statement from Marion’s family: “On behalf of Marion’s mum and the whole of Marion’s family, we would like to thank all of the police team from across the many counties that have worked tirelessly in order to bring the men responsible for Marion’s murder to justice.  

“Special thanks to DC Karen Kennedy for all the support and understanding she has given us over these very difficult months since Marion’s death and the rest of the police court team. 

“Sincere thanks must also go to DCI Joe Banfield for his co-ordination of the investigation, ensuring that no stone was left unturned.

“Our heartfelt thanks also go to the legal team of Mary Loram QC and John Hallissey for putting everything together and bringing forward an extremely strong prosecution case.

“We can all now begin the process of healing, knowing that justice has been served and the men responsible for Marion’s murder are locked away.”