MY STORY IN MY WORDS- MAIL ON SUNDAY NEWSPAPER EXCLUSIVE- JANUARY 2009

We were contacted by Kathy McNeil who had found herself the innocent victim of becoming embroiled in the infamous 'tractor murder trial'.


Kathy was branded the mistress in the original court case and suffered with all the negative connatations that were associated with that.


Just after the court case Kathy had a lot of offers from newspapers wanting to publish her exclusive story. But Kathy was not interested in making money and felt it was not the right time to tell her story.


Kathy came to us asking us to help portray the story in the correct way. We put Kathy in contact with our publicist Jonathan Hartley who sold the story to the Mail on Sunday on Kathy's behalf.


She is delighted with the final article and now plans to work on further projects with Jonathan.


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'Robert was an evil, clever, callous liar': Mistress of farmer who killed his wife is ashamed of the way he duped her


Mail on Sunday newspaper.



Mention the word 'mistress' and most people will instantly envisage a woman of dubious morals and little respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Kathy McNeil knows better than most just how damaging the label can be because for the past year it has been attached to her.

Since her affair came to light, she has been vilified as the archetypal 'other woman' whose liaison with a persuasive and generous younger man indirectly contributed to the death of an unsuspecting wife.

The reality, however, is somewhat different. For 18 months Kathy believed that her boyfriend Robert Wilson was not only single, but bereaved.

He told her that his wife had died two years before they met that the cloud of grief was only just beginning to lift. With Kathy, he said, he could find happiness again.

Kathy, an expat working in the south of Spain when she met Wilson, is a divorcee well-versed in the destructive tendencies of relationships, and was understandably reluctant to get hurt. Yet Wilson seemed so sincere that she found herself falling for his charms.

What she didn't know was that his wife Jane was not only alive, but they were still married and living with each other.

Initially, Wilson successfully kept his two relationships apart. With Kathy living in Spain and Jane at the farm they ran in Cumbria, it was easy.

But as his feelings for Kathy deepened, and the pair made plans to move in together, he started to panic.

Yet rather than confess his affair to Jane, he solved the problem in an altogether more brutal fashion by running her over with his tractor. For a while he managed to cover up his crime, telling police it had been an accident.

Eventually, however, he was arrested. Last November, 41-year-old Wilson was convicted of murder at Carlisle Crown Court and sentenced to life in prison.

It emerged that he was a skilled conman a Walter Mitty character who had another mistress in addition to Kathy and a colourful history of deception.

Two months on, Kathy, 48, is still struggling to come to terms with his betrayal. Sitting in a hotel near her home in Brecon, Powys, tears run down her cheeks as she explains why she has decided to speak out. 'Immediately after the trial, I thought that to tell my story would be tacky,' she says.

'But I can't stay silent any longer. It's not fair that I'm thought of as the "other woman". I had no idea Bob was married. He is an evil, manipulative, clever and callous liar who has ruined my life. I absolutely hate him, and to think of him now makes me feel sick, ashamed and stupid.

'But unlike Jane, at least I'm alive. Even though I know it's not my fault, I can't help but feel guilty for not somehow saving her.'

Kathy's torment is compounded by the fact that she and Jane are not the only victims of Wilson's deception. Jane's two children from her first marriage Sharon, 32, and Lee, 30 are also coming to terms with the fact that their mother was killed by their stepfather.

'At first I was too scared to contact them because I thought they would hate me,' says Kathy. 'But they couldn't have been kinder. Sharon said she knew it wasn't my fault.'

In the week after their stepfather's conviction, I went to Carlisle to visit Sharon and Lee. Although clearly distraught Lee claimed that Wilson had ruined his life and refused to discuss him I was struck by the quiet dignity with which they were dealing with their ordeal.

So I was not expecting to like the woman who, however unwittingly, helped cause their mother's death. Yet Kathy is far from the gold-digging harlot portrayed in the Press.

A natural worrier broken by both Wilson's betrayal and the ensuing public perception of her, she seems to be suffering as much, if not more, than the victim's family.

Now a retail assistant, Kathy met Wilson in October 2006 when he walked into the bar in Malaga where she worked. Wearing his trademark jeans and cowboy boots, he ordered a Baileys on ice. 'He said he was there because it was where he used to go on holiday with his wife, who had died of lung cancer,' Kathy recalls.

In turn, she told him how she had moved to Spain six years earlier and used to run a holiday homes business with her husband. She had been with him for 16 years and had a son with him before they divorced in 2004.


'We had a lot in common and I found him kind and compassionate,' says Kathy. 'I felt so sorry about what he'd been through, especially when he mentioned that his first girlfriend had also died of cancer, this time from a brain tumour. He came back the next night and we chatted for hours. It wasn't flirtatious but I could see him becoming a friend.'

After returning to his farm in the village of Kirkandrews-upon-Eden, near Carlisle, Wilson kept in touch with daily phone calls.

A few weeks later he returned to Malaga and, over dinner in a restaurant, Kathy started to fall for him. 'After the misery of my marriage, I thought he was someone that I could trust,' she says. 'He said he hated men who hurt women. I felt protected.'

As the months passed their relationship deepened. It seemed Wilson was impervious to, and in all probability exhilarated by, the audacious risks he was taking.

Jane, who married Wilson in 2000 and was 53 when she died, worked as a postmistress. Kathy believes that Jane  would have handled the many love-letters she sent him a scenario that still makes her shudder in disbelief.

'He even gave me his land-line number, but because he worked outside I used his mobile,' she says.

'He told me the thick walls in his house often hindered the reception in the evening so I might not be able to get through. I had no reason not to believe him. He said he hadn't told Jane's family about me because it was too soon after her death. I respected his decision.

'It never occurred to me to visit Bob in Cumbria because I worked such long hours. He met my son in Spain and he liked him.'

Wilson flew to Malaga six times during the course of their relationship. He took Kathy out for lavish dinners, told her he loved her

In September 2007, he whisked her off to a luxury resort in the Maldives where their relationship intensified.

'I'm old-fashioned in that I expect a man to pay for dinner,' Kathy admits. 'But I have always earned my own money and sometimes I questioned whether he could afford his lifestyle.

'He insisted he was in control of his finances. For Bob, money was there to be spent. He said he had another job, monitoring the safety of local railways, which paid 300 a night, and that he had savings.

'He said that he'd marry me, sell the farm and we'd move to France, where I'd lived before, to start a new life together. I was going to move back to Britain to help him prepare. We agreed I'd catch up with relatives in Yorkshire first before I came to Cumbria.'

But three days before Kathy was due to visit Wilson at home for the first time, he told her his aunt had died. He said he was tied up organising the funeral and asked her to delay her visit for a few days.

Unbeknown to Kathy, Jane died the following day.

Wilson's trial heard that he called 999 on December 1, 2007, claiming that a cow Jane had been feeding had knocked her into the path of his tractor. When paramedics arrived he screamed hysterically: 'I've killed her. I've killed her.'

So convincing was his grief that police immediately accepted Jane's death was an accident and allowed her body to be cremated.

An unsuspecting Kathy finally came to stay the following week. As soon as she arrived at the three-bedroom farmhouse, Wilson made what to her was a curious confession.

He said that Jane had not died of cancer but had, in fact, committed suicide by throwing herself in front of his tractor before the disease could end her life.

'Bob said he'd found it too painful to mention before,' says Kathy. 'But it made no sense at all.

'I looked on the internet to see if it had made the local Press. But, of course, I was looking under the wrong date and found nothing. I had no option but to believe him.

'He did, however, seem twitchy, especially when the phone rang, but I put it down to me being in his home for the first time. He showed me his wedding album, but there was no other evidence of Jane in the house. It was as if he'd never been married.'

Over the next few months she split her time between Wilson's house and Brecon, where she shares a flat with her son.

Back in Cumbria and three weeks after her mother died, Sharon, an art student, had discovered a card from Kathy to Wilson saying: 'Happy Christmas darling, with love from Kathy xxx.'

Immediately suspicious, she found further cards and letters from Kathy in the house. She made photocopies and took them to the police.

For months Sharon and Lee were forced to carry on behaving normally towards their stepfather, lest he became suspicious of the police investigation.

By March last year, Kathy, in between house-hunting in France, became aware of a mysterious man asking questions about her in Brecon.

'I wasn't overly bothered, but his presence seemed to concern Bob,' she says. 'One day he called me 13 times, asking me if I'd heard any more about him. He sounded nervous, agitated. That was the last time I spoke to him.'

The following day, at 7.15am, she was awoken by two police officers. 'They asked if I knew Robert Wilson. When I said he was my boyfriend, they took me to the police station. They said they would explain later. I was scared and confused.'

It wasn't until lunchtime that her son, having looked up Wilson on the internet, told her the truth. 'When he said that Jane hadn't died until December, and that Bob had been arrested on suspicion of her murder, I passed out,' she says simply.

She was quizzed by police for five days. 'There was never any doubt in my mind he was guilty,' she says.

'I told the police everything and I spent the next few months ranting and pacing my flat. Everything I'd built my future on was a lie. All the little things that hadn't made sense fell into place. The lack of mobile reception. The fact that I hadn't met his family.

'I ripped up the photos of us that the police hadn't taken but I couldn't erase the sickening memories. And I kept thinking that if I'd somehow found out the truth, I could have saved Jane's life.'

At his trial, the extent of Wilson's deception became clear. He was, it emerged, an accomplished liar who had told friends he had suffered lung cancer. He was a compulsive gambler and was 300,000 in debt.

Two months after meeting Kathy, he had doubled the life insurance cover on himself and his wife all in preparation, presumably, for his new life.

Worst of all, on the morning of his arrest, police had caught him in bed with another mistress, farmhand and divorced mother-of-two Michelle Dodd. She maintains that he is innocent and is continuing their relationship while he is in prison.

Kathy, who dismisses Michelle's devotion as 'ludicrous', spent two days testifying against Wilson.

'He wouldn't look me in the eye,' she says. 'Any scrap of sympathy I might have had for him disappeared. I don't know why he lied. I think he'd been doing it for so long that he didn't know any different. He's a dangerous psychopath who deserves his life sentence.

'Sharon and Lee thanked me for helping to convict him. I have emailed Sharon since and I want to set up an art exhibition for her in Carlisle in memory of her mum.'

More tears of grief and bewilderment fall as she gets up to leave less a lust-driven mistress than a terrified woman whose life has been torn apart by the lies of the man she loved.



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