United Kingdom

Property developer accused of murdering heiress wife joined 'Tinder for widows'

Donald McPherson is accused of staging the death of his wife Paula Leeson (pictured) 'to look like an accident' in a bid to get his hands on her £3.5million life insurance

A property developer accused of murdering his wealthy wife joined a group he dubbed 'Tinder for widows' days after killing her, a court heard today. 

Donald McPherson, 47, is accused of staging Paula Leeson's death 'to look like an accident' in a bid to get his hands on her £3.5million life insurance. 

Mrs Leeson, also 47, drowned in the swimming pool at their holiday rental cottage in Nørre Nebel, a remote village in Denmark, in June 2017. 

A Danish paramedic described Mr McPherson's efforts to resuscitate his wife as 'very bad', with prosecutors questioning whether he was 'really trying'. 

Today, Manchester Crown Court heard that while McPherson was still in Denmark on June 14, he completed an online application to join a support group called Widowed and Young.

David McLachlan QC, prosecuting said: 'His wife had been dead eight days, her body had still yet to be repatriated and laid to rest, and he was joining Widowed and Young (WAY).'

Mr McPherson later described the WAY group to his personal trainer as, 'like Tinder for widows', Mr McLachlan said. 

The prosecution allege that Mr McPherson 'stood to gain a vast fortune' from his wife's death after they took out joint life insurance policies worth about £3 million.

Mr McLachlan said: '[Ms Leeson] had a price on her head, and that price could only be paid out if she were dead.'

The couple, who lived in Sale, Greater Manchester, arrived in Nørre Nebel, south-west Jutland, on June 4, 2017. Ms Leeson died on the day they were supposed to fly back to Manchester.

Donald McPherson, 47, has denied murder at Manchester Crown Court (pictured) 

The prosecution claim Mr McPherson 'never really showed much emotion after his wife's death'.

Mr McLachlan added: 'Far from being overwhelmed from grief, Donald McPherson was partying away with the Widowed and Young group.'  

On the day of her death, Ms Leeson had spoken to her mother, who said her daughter seemed 'subdued, as if something was wrong', the court heard.

At 1.46pm, on June 6, Mr McPherson called the emergency services.

A paramedic arrived about ten minutes later and saw Mr McPherson giving his wife CPR as she lay on the edge of the pool. 

The paramedic said Mr McPherson 'had not pressed hard enough', and had 'apologised because he had an injured shoulder'.

Mr McLachlan said: 'He thought that Donald McPherson's resuscitation attempts to supposedly save his wife's life were very bad, as there was still so much water inside her lungs.'

Mr McLachlan asked jurors to question whether, 'in fact [he] was really trying'. 

Mr McPherson told police he had not seen his wife for 20 minutes before finding her in the pool. 

The morning after her death, Mr McPherson made online transactions to move money from their joint bank account to his personal accounts. Prosecutors claim he did this to 'reduce his credit card debts'.

A post-mortem examination in Denmark found Ms Leeson had suffered injuries including abrasions and bruises to her forehead, and injuries to her arms and legs. 

Her death was found to be 'assumed accidental' by the Danish authorities.

Mr McLachlan said: 'The prosecution case is that her death was far from accidental.'

In April 2018, Greater Manchester Police arrested Mr McPherson, and he denied killing his wife. 

The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, continues.

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