A MILLIONARE car-dealer — serving a life sentence for the murder of his estranged wife — has failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name.
Ian Garth Workman was jailed for at least 17-and-a-half years after being found guilty of murdering Sue Workman their remote farmhouse in Plantation Road, Edgworth, on April 11, 2011.
The 60-year-old, of Vale Street, Chapeltown, claimed his wife came at him with a knife during a row and was fatally wounded in a struggle as he tried to defend himself.
He launched a challenge against his conviction at London's Criminal Appeal Court, urging top judges to consider “fresh evidence” from biomechanics experts, which his lawyers said supported his version of events.
During a two-day hearing earlier this month, the court heard evidence from one expert that scientific enquiries had revealed it was “possible” that Mrs Workman had stabbed herself.
But the evidence did not convince three of the country's most senior judges, who said it did not cast doubt on the “safety” of the conviction.
The judges also dismissed a bid by Workman to appeal against his minimum jail term, saying it was 'severe, but not excessive'.
Mrs Workman died from a single stab wound in her heart at the couple’s former home.
The couple were married for nearly 35 years until they divorced in December, 2010, and “acrimonious, drawn out and costly” divorce proceedings were ongoing at the time of Mrs Workman's murder.
She was living in the former matrimonial home, but Workman still had his belongings in the house and would visit regularly — which the court heard his wife “did not appear to have liked”.
On the day she died, Workman 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 said his wife had attacked him with a knife and had “got stabbed in the chest”.
Paramedics found her dead and the knife nearby, covered in her blood, and Workman had a number of superficial cuts to his arms and stomach — which he said were the result of her attack on him.
During his trial, an expert for the prosecution told jurors at Preston Crown Court it was “unlikely” Mrs Workman could have stabbed herself in the way her estranged husband claimed.
However, the Appeal Court 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 accidentally have inflicted the fatal wound on herself.
She told the court she had conducted 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.
But, rejecting the appeal bid, Lord Justice Davis said the enquiries conducted by Dr Lane were based on Workman's own version of the struggle between him and his estranged wife, which was an “uncertain and inadequate factual basis”.
He said that, while there was no criticism of the exercise, as an expert for the prosecution observed, it could not begin to replicate the actual events of a “dynamic and fluid situation between two struggling humans”.
Sitting with Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and Judge Simon Tonking QC, the judge also said that evidence relating to Mrs Workman's computer did not affect the safety of his conviction.
It emerged in the written judgment that Workman was sued by the solicitors who represented him at trial so they could recover outstanding legal fees.
He also counter-sued them for £15 million, claiming his career and reputation had been damaged by his conviction — a claim which was struck out.
Dismissing the appeals against conviction and sentence, Lord Justice Davis said: "Workman's lawyers have laboured hard on his behalf.
"They have advanced everything that could possibly have been advanced on his behalf: although we have to say, however, that the criticisms of trial counsel and solicitors have turned out not to have been justified.
"Be that as it may, this appeal against conviction is dismissed. We are satisfied that the conviction is safe. The trial was fair.
"The jury convicted plainly having disbelieved the appellant in his evidence. As to the proposed fresh evidence, that does not, in our judgment, controvert the safety of the conviction.
"The application for leave to appeal against sentence is also refused."