Former city trader Darren Byrne has been found guilty of murdering his stockbroker wife Maria, 35, by burning her to death. Bryne killed his wife when he found out she was having an affair, but told police she died while she was making him a BLT sandwich.
However, Bryne, 40, has now been convicted of killing Maria in the kitchen of the half a million pound home they shared in Essex. Judge Charles Gratwicke described the killing as “wicked and heinous”. He told Bryne to expect an “exceedingly long sentence” in jail.
The court heard that the banker tried to cover up what he had done after he knocked his wife out. He covered her in white spirit and then set her on fire. He then turned on the gas stove in an attempt to set his house ablaze. Bryne then called 999 and told call handlers that he had just discovered his wife’s body. When the house didn’t catch fire, he decided he would move her and say she had died in some sort of tragic cooking accident. He told emergency services: “She’s burnt bad!”
Walking the dog
When police arrived, he said he had been out walking the family dog while his wife made him a sandwich, and had returned home to find her dead on the floor of the kitchen.
It is actually understood that a row broke out between the couple when she found a text between her husband and his osteopath, which revealed they were involved in an affair. When Maria confronted Bryne, he told her he would no longer see married Deborah Houlihan.
However, giving evidence, Ms Houlihan said that she and Bryne had told their respective partners the affair was finished, but had continued to see each other. He told Maria, mother to his two children, that the relationship was over, but she found a text on a secret phone and a row broke out.