IT is "highly possible" that the wife of millionaire car dealer Ian Workman stabbed herself and was not murdered, a court heard.
Judges hearing the appeal of Workman, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of his estranged wife, were told that the victim could have accidentally stabbed herself.
Workman was jailed for at least 17-and-a-half years after being found guilty of murdering Sue Workman at Preston Crown Court in December 2011.
The 60-year-old, of Vale Street, Chapeltown, has always claimed his wife came at him with a knife and was fatally wounded in a struggle as he tried to defend himself.
And his version of events is supported by "fresh evidence" from a biomechanics expert - who told London's Criminal Appeal Court that scientific enquiries had revealed it was "possible" Mrs Workman stabbed herself.
Mrs Workman died from a single stab wound in her heart at their remote farmhouse in Plantation Road, Edgworth, on April 11, 2011.
The couple were married for nearly 35 years until they divorced in December 2010 and there was an ongoing "acrimonious" dispute between the pair following the split.
Mrs Workman was still living in the former matrimonial home, in Plantation Road, but Workman still had his belongings in the house and would visit regularly.
On the day she died, he arrived at the house at about 1pm and entries in her blog at about 1.30pm indicated they had a row.
At about 1.40pm, Workman called 999 and told them his wife had attacked him with a knife and had "got stabbed".
Paramedics found her dead and the knife nearby, covered in her blood, and Workman had a number of superficial cuts on his arms and abdomen, which he said were the result of her attack on him.
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During his trial, an expert for the prosecution told jurors it was "unlikely" Mrs Workman could have stabbed herself in the way her estranged husband claimed.
However, the Appeal Court today heard testimony from Dr Judith Lane, an expert in the field of biomechanics based at Queen Mary University, Edinburgh, who said it was "highly possible" the victim could have stabbed herself.
Dr Lane told the court she had conducted, for the first time in her career, enquiries into the possible effect of "auto recoil" on Mrs Workman's arm - if it had been suddenly released during a struggle - to see if it could have generated the necessary force required to stab herself.
Lord Justice Davis, sitting with Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and Judge Simon Tonking QC, heard Dr Lane concluded it was possible, as Mrs Workman was "highly unlikely" to have had time to realise what was happening and react before the knife reached her chest.
Dr Lane said: "It is highly possible that the sudden release of the arm could have caused the knife to penetrate the victim's chest before she had chance to react."
She added: "I conclude from the mathematical and scientific investigations carried out that it was highly unlikely that Mrs Workman had time to let go of the knife before it contacted."
Under cross-examination by crown lawyers, who oppose the appeal against Workman's conviction, Dr Lane said her conclusion would not have been affected by other factors such as the sharpness of the blade.
She said this was because her enquiries revealed the levels of force generated in the arm from "auto recoil" were many times higher than the minimum required to penetrate both skin and cartilage.
The couple's sons were present at today's hearing and a rift between them was apparent, as security staff sat between the eldest son, Grant - who supports his father's bid to clear his name - and his brothers Ben and Nick.
The hearing continues.