Husband charged with Kate prout's murder

Kate Prout

Husband charged with Kate Prout's murder
Bristol Evening Post
By Daniel Evans Crime Correspondent
11 March 2009

The husband of missing farmer's wife Kate Prout has appeared in court accused of her murder, 16 months after she disappeared.

Adrian Prout, 46, was today charged with killing Mrs Prout, who went missing from their 200-acre property in Gloucestershire 16 months ago.

The retired teacher was 55 when she disappeared from £1.2-million Redhill Farm, in Redmarley D'Abitot, on Bonfire Night 2007.

Her body has never been found despite police conducting an exhaustive "proof of life" investigation.

Mr Prout, a farmer who runs a pheasant shoot, entered no plea to a single count of murder on a date between November 4 and November 11, 2007, at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court today.

He spoke only to confirm his name, age and address, which remains as Redhill Farm.

Magistrates refused him bail and remanded him in custody to appear at Bristol Crown Court on March 17 for a preliminary hearing. Mr Prout was originally arrested shortly after Mrs Prout's disappearance.

He was questioned twice as police undertook an exhaustive search of the 200-acre farm but his bail was cancelled in January.

Mr Prout was arrested for the third time yesterday at the family home in the Forest of Dean and charged with murder after the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was sufficient evidence for trial.

Ann Reddrop, Head of the CPS Complex Casework Unit, said: "We have been working closely with the police over the past months to investigate all aspects of Mrs Prout's disappearance before reaching a final decision on charging.

"We have also sought advice from leading counsel. Accordingly, we have this week authorised the police to charge Mr Prout."

Mrs Prout was last heard of when she made a telephone call to the bank, which was taped, at about 3.30pm on November 5, 2007.

She had given no indication anything was wrong when she spoke to her sister-in-law shortly before that call and did not take any personal belongings with her when she disappeared without a trace.

After her husband reported her missing five days later on November 10, more than 100 officers searched a grain store, piles of bark chippings, woodlands, a pool and a reservoir at the Prouts' home.

But despite becoming increasingly convinced Mrs Prout was dead, detectives never found a body.

An underwater team searched ponds on the land and helicopters were sent up to scan the land.

A sniffer dog called Eddie, which took part in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann, could not find any trace of her either.

The case has been dubbed a real-life "Midsomer murder", with many villagers being questioned by officers.

Three other people were arrested, questioned and dropped from enquiries during the investigation.

They were Diane Bellamy, 48, landlord Eric Woolley, 60, and a 43-year-old man from Lydney.

Senior Investigating Officer Acting Detective Superintendent Neil Kelly said yesterday: "This has been a complex, thorough and necessarily lengthy investigation to bring us to this point.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those affected, especially Mrs Prout's friends and family, for their understanding, tolerance and patience."

Mrs Prout's brother Richard Wakefield made pleas for information, but she has never come forward and missed memorable events such Christmases and birthdays.

After her disappearance, Mr Wakefield said: "She was a kind, caring person. She was artistic and she enjoyed sketching and she does the flowers for the local church.

"She enjoys the countryside and she loves walking her dog. She's a good cook, articulate, intelligent and she's always well-presented and the family and all her friends are missing her greatly.

''It's most unusual for Kate to disappear like this at this moment, and I'd like to appeal to everyone to come forward who can help with inquires to bring Kate back."

Mrs Prout is white, 5ft 6in and of medium build.

Described as having a pale complexion, she has green eyes and had brown, shoulder-length straight hair when last seen. She was wearing jeans and a black V-neck top.

Anyone with information about her disappearance should call Gloucestershire Constabulary on 0845 0901234.

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