Mystery surrounds how popular teacher Bernice met her death
A man with a history of heavy drinking went to extraordinary lengths to hide the body of his teacher wife and to pretend over the following days that she was still alive.
Had he lived, Lawrence William (49), of Colley’s Gate, Lutton, would have faced criminal proceedings ranging from preventing the lawful burial of Kanwal Bernice William (50), known locally as Bernice Williams, to murder, Det Insp Karl Whiffen told an inquest on Tuesday.
Lawrence was found hanged in a stable block on April 7.
Two days later a specialist police search team found Mrs William’s body carefully hidden beneath items in a junk room at the family home.
Det Insp Whiffen said Lawrence was twice arrested for drink-driving in the run up to the incident and there had been police involvement with the family over domestic abuse.
He said: “There are some incidents of domestic abuse, the actual physical ones I would describe as minimal.”
The inquest heard Lawrence lied to his sons, telling them their mum was with friends, and sent texts from her phone pretending to be her.
Their son Ben came home from work on March 24 to find his parents arguing about Lawrence’s alleged improper relationship with a third party.
Ben last saw his mum in the living room between 1am-1.30am on March 26, Mother’s Day, but couldn’t find her later that day when he returned home with flowers.
He texted his mum, wishing her Happy Mother’s Day and asking where she was, and a reply came that evening telling him not to worry and she was with a friend.
Ben said: “In hindsight now I think it was dad sending the texts.”
Following the discovery of Kanwal in the junk room, Ben pieced things together.
He told the inquest: “Things began to add up that dad must have killed mum. I just thought she had wanted to get away for a while. As for mum, she had done nothing wrong. She had done everything for dad, Joe (Ben’s brother) and me. She did not deserve what happened to her.”
The inquest heard a post mortem examination failed to find the cause of Mrs William’s death and Coroner Paul Cooper said only Mr William would have known what happened to her.
Mr Cooper said Mr William had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to hide his wife’s body.
He said: “There was clearly a masquerade by Mr William endeavouring to give the impression that Kanwal was still alive.”
Addressing the couple’s sons, Mr Cooper said: “There isn’t anything to suggest that your father did actually kill your mother.”
He said he could only come to an open conclusion in Kanwal’s case and concluded Lawrence’s death was suicide.
Mr Cooper referred to Mr William’s issues with alcohol, saying when drinking “he turned into a person you really don’t want to know”, and there was evidence he was “drinking all the time” in the last week of his life.
Earlier Ben described Kanwal as a “good mum” and a “good woman”, who was a hard working primary school teacher and helped out at Lutton Church, while his dad was “a loving, caring father who always looked after us”.