A HUSBAND who murdered his estranged wife by strangling her in a ‘fit of sexual jealousy’ at his South Yorkshire home will spend at least 18 years behind bars.
Raymond Billam, aged 63, throttled 46-year-old Joy Billam with an electrical cord during a row over their impending divorce.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Joy had got engaged to her new boyfriend, Michael Woodland, the previous day - and that the ‘intolerant and possessive’ killer committed the murder when he realised he couldn’t win his wife back.
As a macabre gesture, the murderer removed Joy’s new engagement ring, placing it on his mantelpiece, and even recruited a teenager to help him remove the body - an act the judge, Mr Justice Openshaw, called ‘depraved and despicable’.
Billam, of Guildford Road, Wheatley, Doncaster, hid Joy’s body in the boot of her purple Ford Fiesta, which he parked on Doncaster Road, Goldthorpe, near to Mr Woodland’s home in a calculating attempt to frame him.
“Nothing could justify taking up that cable and holding it forcibly against her neck, as she clawed desperately at his forearms to free herself,” the judge said.
“I’m satisfied that he killed her in a fit of sexual jealousy, founded essentially on the fact that she had left him for another man.”
Billam - who admitted manslaughter - was convicted unanimously by a jury of murder.
The judge jailed him for life with a minimum term of 18 years, and said he will be ‘an old man’ by the time he is considered for release.
Joy’s grown-up sons Tony and Lee said they were ‘delighted’ following the verdict.
“Our mum loved her grandchildren so very much. They will never see her again due to his spitefulness and jealousy,” they said.
Billam, a former colliery worker, married Joy in 1997, but in the early summer of 2011 she started a relationship with Mr Woodland after 14 years of marriage.
The killer started to make frequent phone calls to Joy which became ‘unfriendly and hostile’, and was heard telling her that if he couldn’t have her, then no-one else could.
Because Billam hid the body, innocent Mr Woodland was the first person arrested on suspicion of Joy’s murder, and spent 24 hours in custody before police realised Joy’s scheming husband was the real suspect.
Det Chf Insp Sean Middleton, from South Yorkshire Police, said Billam was ‘deceptive and manipulative’.
“This is a particularly tragic case that has devastated Joy’s family,” he added.
“Raymond Billam is a dangerous man.”
By Richard Blackledge