Twenty years on: How po­lice ex­posed cruel hus­band who tried to fake wife’s sui­cide

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY JOE THOMAS joe.thomas@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @joe_thomas18

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.”

above, left;

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

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