Twenty years on: How police exposed cruel husband who tried to fake wife’s suicide
POLICE detectives were investigating one of Southport’s most scandalous murders 20 years ago.
When the body of mum-of-two Tina Longworth was found at her home in Southport, Merseyside Police officers initially thought she had tragically taken her own life.
But, as time went by, detectives slowly began to suspect that Tina’s husband, sailing club commodore Paul Longworth, had instead murdered her - and faked her suicide in a desperate bid to cover his tracks and get away with the evil crime.
Police were alerted to Tina’s death by Paul Longworth, who claimed to have walked into the couple’s Peel Street home to find his wife of seven years hanging from the banisters.
He told police he had made the shocking discovery after returning from a party at Southport Sailing Club - where a celebration was being held to mark his 37th birthday.
The lack of a note made him a suspect, and, as police dug deeper into their seemingly happy marriage, they discovered a tumultuous relationship, as well as claims that Paul beat his 29-year-old wife, and that she was cheating on him.
With Paul Longworth’s claims of a happy marriage unravelling, detectives pieced together a different version of events.
Tina’s post mortem revealed 36 strange scratches and bruises on her body which led detectives to believe Paul Longworth had strangled his wife as their two young children lay in their bedrooms, then set up her body to make it appear as though she had hung herself.
Police believed he then, in a chilling bid to provide himself with an alibi, returned to the sailing club to continue the party.
At the time, Paul Longworth denied killing his wife, but was convicted of murder in February, 1999, after a high-profile trial.
His murderous deed 20 years ago last weekend - on the night of January 8, 1997 - led to him being handed life behind bars. A judge later set his sen sentence at a minimum of 14 years.
Detective Inspector Bob Morrison, who investigated the murder, described it as “less a crime of passion than of temper”, adding Longworth was “a ruthless and possessive man”.
In 2011, their daughter, Abby, told of her shock at learning what had happened to her mum on the internet.
She and her brother were taken to live with family members in Man Manchester, the day after Tina was found.
Having been kept in the dark about it for years, she said: “It was horrifying. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the newspaper reports – it was as though I was reading about someone else’s life and not mine ... I was so shocked.
“I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.
“For years, I’d never known what had happened to mum.”
Killer and Sailing Club commodore Paul Longworth pictured steering his boat at Southport Marina
Murder victim Tina Longworth, on her wedding day, with her grandfather; and killer Paul Longworth, below – convicted of his wife’s killing after a high-profile trial in 1999