Jealous husband, 53, is jailed for life for murdering friend of 25 years who was sleeping with his wife and then burning his remains in a rusty oil drum
- Farmer Andrew Jones, 52, set a trap for Michael O’Leary, 55, in Carmarthenshire
- Used phone belonging to cheating wife Rhianon, 51, and pretended to be her
- He lured Mr O’Leary to Cyncoed Farm and shot him in the face with .22 Colt rifle
- Then used a digger to move body before burning it on funeral pyre of wood
- Judge at Swansea Crown Court today sentenced Jones to at least 30 years
A jealous husband who lured his wife’s lover to a secluded farmhouse to shoot him dead in cold blood has been jailed for life for murder.
Farmer Andrew Jones, 52, set a trap for Michael O’Leary, 55, in Carmarthenshire using a ‘secret’ mobile phone belonging to his cheating wife Rhianon, 51, and pretending to be her.
Mr O’Leary thought he was about to meet up with his lover at Cyncoed Farm in January but came face-to-face with her husband brandishing a .22 Colt rifle.
Jones shot his friend of 25 years in the face and used a digger to move his body before burning it on a funeral pyre of wooden pallets.
A judge at Swansea Crown Court today sentenced Jones to at least 30 years in prison.
Speaking at the sentencing, Mr O’Leary’s son Wayne slammed Jones as a ‘coward’ and a ‘monster’ who sent his family on a ‘wild goose chase’ thinking the father-of-three was dead.
Meanwhile, Mr O’Leary’s wife Sian described her husband as her ‘everything’ and declared she still loved him despite the affair.
Andrew Jones (left), 53, discovered Michael O’Leary, 55, was having an affair with his wife Rhianon (right), 51
Jones made the disappearance of Michael O’Leary (pictured), 55, look like suicide and then burnt his remains in an oil drum
Mr O’Leary’s wife Sian arriving at Swansea Crown Court today. Sian received a text message the evening of her murder apparently from her husband saying: ‘I’m so sorry X’ in an attempt to make his disappearance look like suicide
The .22 Colt rifle used in the shooting of O’Leary. Jones shot him in the face and used a digger to move his body
Mrs O’Leary said: ‘He was my husband, best friend, soulmate and world – my everything.
‘2019 was a trying year for us and we had one or two issues in our marriage but we were working on them. We ran out of time.
‘I know Mike loved me and was there for me throughout our marriage. That is of great comfort to me.’
Judge Mrs Justice Nerys Jefford said: ‘Michael O’Leary did something wrong. He had an affair with a wife of a man who had been his friend for many years but he did not deserve to pay for that with his life.’
In an emotional address to the court, Wayne said: ‘You will always be remembered by us as a monster and a coward who couldn’t deal with it as a man. If you had we wouldn’t be here now.
‘We would like to hold a funeral but Andrew Jones kept that from us and still chooses to do that. He hasn’t shown any remorse – if he had he would have left us with more than a few pieces of bone.
‘You sent us on a wild goose chase believing dad had taken his own life all the while thinking you had done a good job.
‘Your arrogance and ego thinking you had done a good job but this is what got you caught.
‘You said you thought it was the best situation for everyone if he had committed suicide – this isn’t true, it was best for you.
A mountain bike which Jones rode back to the farm after leaving Mr O’Leary’s car at a riverside car park
The Audi boot where Mr O’Leary’s body was transported from the farm to his home in Carmarthenshire
‘You have used the word ‘sad w*****’ and ‘pathetic’ to describe yourself. Those were the only words of truth you said during the case.’
Mrs 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 judge said that after learning of the affair between Michael O’Leary and his wife Rhianon, Jones had involved his own teenage daughter in spying on her mother – despite Mrs Jones saying it was over.
‘During this time, despite knowing how upset your daughter was, you did not try to protect her, rather you involved her in keeping watch over her mother and reporting her movements,’ he said.
‘I have no doubt during these months about what you felt about the betrayal of your wife and a good friend festered. I have no doubt that it reached a point where you decided to get rid of Mr O’Leary.’
Previously, Mrs Jones had boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him – leaving the businessman, who ran building and farming companies, ‘upset’.
Earlier, William Hughes, prosecuting, said: ‘The destruction of Michael O’Leary’s body was an attempt to hinder the police investigation. The murder was carefully planned and undertaken by Jones after he found messages on his wife’s iPad.’
Jones and his love rival Mr O’Leary were friends for 25 years before the affair started in the farming village of Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire.
Jones used his wife Rhianon’s ‘secret phone’ to entice Mr O’Leary (pictured with his wife Sian) to the farm in Carmarthenshire
A barrel in Carmarthenshire where part of Mr O’Leary’s intestine was recovered during the police investigation
Jones (right) used the ‘secret phone’ belonging to Rhianon (left) to entice Mr O’Leary to the farm after discovering their fling
When Jones discovered what was going on and confronted the mother of his three children, she told him the affair was over because Mr O’Leary would not leave his wife.
But it continued and the pair used secret phones to arrange meetings in their local gym and in country lanes and laybys.
Jones and his daughter Cari ‘monitored’ Rhianon’s movements and phone calls after discovering she was cheating in September 2019.
Police found ‘intimate and graphic messages’ which were shown to the jury during the three-week murder trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Mr O’Leary thought he was about to meet up with his lover at Cyncoed Farm (above) but came face-to-face with her husband
A picture of a forklift truck at Cyncoed Farm with Mr O’Leary’s blood found on it, which was shown in court during the case
Mr Hughes said: ‘The messages show the pitfalls of carrying on a clandestine relationship.’
Jones used the secret phone to send a message to father-of-three Mr O’Leary which led to his murder on January 27.
Mrs Jones, 51, boasted to her husband that she enjoyed sex with her secret lover more than with him
It told him to go to Cyncoed Farm, where he was expecting to meet Rhianon Jones for a ‘cwtch’ – Welsh for cuddle.
A major police search was launched when ex-rugby player Mr O’Leary failed to return home to his family in Nantgaredig that night.
Mr Hughes said: ‘Michael O’Leary’s body has never been recovered but on March 14 a piece of human tissue was found at Mr Jones’s address.
‘As part of the extensive forensic inquiries the small intestine tissue was found at the bottom of a rusty oil barrel – its DNA profile matched that of Michael O’Leary. Forensic officers said it gave the appearance of having been burned.’
Jones denied murder claiming the gun – the ‘most scary’ of his collection of eight firearms – went off in a ‘tragic and terrible accident’ during the confrontation with his wife’s lover.
In tears he told the jury: ‘I wanted to scare Mike. When he parked up I shot two or three rounds into the floor. I didn’t want to shoot him dead. He said: ‘All right Jones’. I walked over and put the gun at my hip pointing it in the air.
‘He walked back and tripped backwards. I took the opportunity to kick him in the face so he was semi-conscious. When he came around, he lunged at me – the gun went off. He said ‘Ahh’ and slumped.’
A forklift truck at Cyncoed Farm with Mr O’Leary’s blood found on it during the investigation by Dyfed Powys Police
Jones shot Mr O’Leary (pictured with his wife Sian) and used a forklift truck to lift his body into the boot of his car
Jones and his daughter Cari ‘monitored’ the movements and phone calls of Rhianon (pictured), the court was told
Mr O’Leary’s wife Sian received a text message that evening apparently from her husband saying: ‘I’m so sorry X’ in an attempt to make his disappearance look like suicide.
His silver Nissan Navara was found locked and abandoned near the River Towy in Carmarthen and police divers were called in to search for his body.
Jones lured Mr O’Leary (above) to the Carmarthenshire farm
But Jones, of Bronwydd, Carmarthen, burned it to destroy any evidence linking him to his love rival’s sudden disappearance.
Jones piled up 24 wooden pallets and used a digger to put Mr O’Leary’s body on top in the early hours of January 29 and set it ablaze in an oil drum ‘over several days’ in a series of ‘intense’ fires.
Jones admitted to using electric fans to speed up the burning. A burned piece of Mr O’Leary’s intestine was recovered from the drum and his body has never been recovered.
He told the jury: ‘I got wooden pallets and piled them up. With the excavator I moved Mike and placed him on top of the pallet with the intention of starting a fire.
‘I put cardboard packaging and papers around the pallets and got all the electric fans out.’
Jones then retrieved an old order of service from a funeral he had been to so he could give a reading as he burned the body.
He said: ‘I wanted to say a few words, because I can’t remember the Lord’s prayer off by heart, and then I lit the fire and went to sit in the car. I left the fire burn all the way down to the floor whilst sitting in the car.’
Jones then added more fuel to the fire over a four-and-a-half hour period.
Karim Khalil QC, defending, asked the jury whether someone intent on murder would carry it out at his own property which was overlooked by neighbours and had CCTV at the entrance.
He said: ‘He was not planning to kill Mike O’Leary. He was planning to meet Mike O’Leary to talk about Rhiannon and it got horribly out of control.’
Farmer and builder Jones showed no emotion when the jury found him guilty of murder by a majority verdict of 11-1 after 13 hours and 25 minutes of deliberations.
He will be sentenced later this month when Mr O’Leary’s wife and family will give victim personal statements. Judge Justice Jefford said: ‘There is only one sentence I can give and that is life imprisonment.’
Addressing Mr Khalil, Mrs Justice Jefford said: ‘I think Mr Jones is digesting the verdict of the jury.’
Discharging the jury, the judge said: ‘Thank you very much for the time and attention you have paid to this matter.
A picture of the quarry area where Mr O’Leary’s body was burnt, which was shown in court during the trial of Jones
Jones piled up 24 wooden pallets and used a digger to put Mr O’Leary’s body on top in the early hours of January 29
The quarry area where Mr O’Leary’s body was burnt. Jones lit the bonfire which burned for four and a half hours
Mr O’Leary’s wife Sian is pictured arriving at Swansea Crown Court on September 14 during the trial
An extensive search (pictured) was carried out for Mr O’Leary’s body at the farm in Carmarthenshire
‘I said to you at the very beginning there are very few more serious matters that can be entrusted to you as a jury than a charge of murder.
‘Also how important you were to the process of criminal justice in a jury trial of this nature and it doesn’t work without you, and it doesn’t work without you paying the extraordinarily careful attention to the evidence that you very obviously have done.
‘Your questions on so many occasions were extremely penetrating and pertinent, and demonstrated very clearly the attention you had been paying to the evidence and the time taken to consider your verdict does the same.
‘I am very grateful to you for giving up your time so that Mr Jones could receive the fair and proper trial he was entitled to but also the family of Michael O’Leary could see that process being undertaken and justice being done and your verdict being delivered.’
Mrs Justice Jefford went on: ‘You have found Mr Jones guilty of murder. You will probably know that in those circumstances the only sentence that I can pass is one of life imprisonment.
‘However, I have to set what is called the minimum term to be served. What that means is a period of time – the minimum term – that Mr Jones will have to spend in prison before he can even be considered for release on licence.’
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