A jealous builder who lured his wife’s secret lover to a remote farm where he shot him dead in a carefully planned execution has been jailed for at least 30 years.
Andrew Jones, 53, discovered Michael O’Leary, 55, was having an affair with his wife Rhianon, 51, and set about planning the ultimate revenge.
After gunning him down in cold blood, Jones made the father-of-three’s disappearance look like suicide and then burnt his remains in a rusty oil drum – even holding a morbid funeral service for his friend of 25 years.
Jones, of Bronwydd Road, Carmarthen, had denied murder but was convicted after a trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Jailing him for life, Mrs Justice Jefford said he would have to serve a minimum of 30 years before he could be considered for parole.
“You are 53 years old and whatever minimum term I impose it is likely you will spend most if not all of the rest of your natural life in custody,” she said.
“You still maintain your account of events and that can give them little comfort.”
The court heard Mr O’Leary was murdered on the evening of January 27 this year after being lured with the promise of a “cwtch” – a cuddle – to Cyncoed Farm in Cwmffrwd, Carmarthenshire to meet Mrs Jones.
Instead, he found her ruthless husband crouched behind a dustbin armed with a .22 Colt rifle, who shot him dead after ignoring his pleas for mercy, begging him ‘Please don’t do it, Jones’.
He then drove his victim’s Nissan Navara to a riverside car park where he sent messages purporting to be from Mr O’Leary to his wife and children, saying “I am so sorry x”, before cycling back to the farm.
Jones used a forklift truck to load Mr O’Leary’s body into his wife’s car and took it home to Carmarthen where he destroyed it.
The site manager’s body has never been found and forensic scientists have only ever recovered a small piece of his intestine from the oil drum in a yard adjacent to his home.
Dyfed-Powys Police were alerted by Mr O’Leary’s worried family after receiving the text messages.
They launched a missing person inquiry and arrested the self-employed builder after he admitted luring his love rival to the farm.
The shooting was the culmination of a deteriorating relationship between the married couple as the increasingly paranoid father-of-three used his own teenage daughter to spy on her mother, having learnt the affair was not over.
Jones said his friend died after the gun, taken from his collection of legally-held weapons, went off during a struggle.
He told the jury he took the “scariest” looking gun from his collection to “frighten” Mr O’Leary.
“I wanted him to get the message – stay away from us,” he said.
“I wanted to shame him, ‘You told my daughter you weren’t going to meet her any more, and here you are’. I wanted to scare him and shame him.”
Under cross-examination, William Hughes QC, prosecuting, said: “You took considered steps to lure him there under false pretences that he was going to meet Rhianon and when he did get there, far from being a scuffle you described, you in cold blood shot him dead.
“You carried out a carefully planned – and I used the word execute carefully – to execute a plan to kill Michael O’Leary, nothing in mind but to murder him.”
Leighton Mawer, a senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The evidence showed that Andrew Jones had carefully planned and set up the meeting at the farm, taking a rifle with him.
“Following the shooting, Jones went to considerable lengths to cover up his crime, including moving Mr O’Leary’s car and starting the pretence that the victim had taken his own life.
“A robust case was built using cell site analysis of the two men’s phones, CCTV and DNA evidence to show that Jones had moved and disposed of the body.
“The circumstances of the case are remarkable, but the most important fact is a tragic one, that a man has lost his life, leaving a family grieving. Our thoughts are with them.”