12 Dec 2015

NZ woman may have hidden husband's body in garden 18 years ago

9:40 am on 12 December 2015

A skeleton found in plastic wrapping in the garden of a block of flats in Wales was that of a man who was last seen in 1997 and his New Zealand-born wife, who recently passed away, is the main suspect in the murder investigation.

John Sabine and his wife Leigh Ann Sabine

John Sabine and his wife Leigh Ann Sabine Photo: Wales Police

Police say John Sabine, who would now have been 85, is believed to have moved to Beddau, near Pontypridd, South Wales in February in 1997.

His wife Leigh Ann Sabine, who was reportedly born in New Zealand, died from cancer on 30 October, aged 74. But Welsh detectives have now named her as the prime suspect in his death.

Locals have told BBC reporters the pair were originally from New Zealand and their estranged children may still live here.

Police confirmed the body was lying above ground, but was wrapped in plastic sheeting. DNA testing has confirmed his identity and his injuries were consistent with assault.

Mr Sabine was never reported as a missing person and the circumstances of where the body was concealed is part of the ongoing investigation. Mrs Sabine lived in the same apartment block until she died.

Police are also investigating the financial activities of the couple who have estranged children. They have been located and informed.

South Wales Police Det Ch Insp Gareth Morgan said: "This is an extraordinary set of circumstances and we are working tirelessly to put together the pieces of what is a complex investigation."

Wales Online has reported that Mrs Sabine was interviewed about her garden in a 2012 magazine, where she said she had "grown up with dirt" in New Zealand.

It noted how she had "made it her mission to turn a neglected garden, which she shares with three other tenants, into a little piece of paradise".

- BBC / RNZ