Former cabaret singer Leigh Anne Sabine got away with the “perfect murder” after her husband’s body was only discovered when she died from brain cancer.A wife who smashed her husband’s head in with a frog ornament and then mummified his body in 50 layers of sheeting got away with the “perfect murder,” an inquest heard.
Former cabaret singer Leigh Anne Sabine hit “abusive” husband John with the “force of a hammer” using the ornament she kept next to their bed, an inquest heard.
His body was then reportedly “mummified” in layers of plastic sheeting, roofing felt, bin bags and shopping bags tied up with green string and elasticated rope.
His was discovered – still in his Marks and Spencer pyjamas – 18 years after he died after Mrs Sabine’s home was cleared out when she died of brain cancer , aged 74.
The inquest, at Coroners Court Rock Grounds Aberdare, heard that Mrs Sabine had told a neighbour she had a “medical skeleton” which she asked her to help move from a communal garden shed to the attic.
She also regularly joked that the skeleton was real and told her hairdresser she could be “famous” after she dies: “Because of the body in the bag,” the inquest heard.
Accountant John was 67 years old when he was last seen alive in 1997 at the couple’s home in the village of Beddau, near Pontypridd.
A post-mortem examination carried out by forensic pathologist Dr Richard Jones found the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, although the date of his death was unknown.
Dr Jones said: “The frog had a projecting eye and hind leg. These features were lined up with the fractures.
“A single blow from this item could have accounted for all the skull fractures. They are severe injuries and can easily account for death.”The frog weighed 1.1kg and was 14cm long. The shape of the frog matched the fractures.”The stone frog was shown as evidence to the inquest.Dr Jones said the body was wrapped in “many layers of heavy-duty material” such as roofing felt, as well as shopping bags and bin bags tied with green string.He said: “The decomposed body was clad in Marks & Spencer pyjamas.
“It was relatively well-preserved because of a process known as “chemical mummification”, which occurs in certain circumstances.
“It can persist for years or even centuries.”
Mr Sabine was identified by a hip replacement he had had in the 1990s which was preserved in his skeleton.
The skull had several fractures but there were no other injuries.
Tests on his body showed he had drunk alcohol before his death but would have been below the drink-drive limit.
The inquest heard Mrs Sabine told a neighbour she had “medical skeleton” bought while she was training to be a nurse.
John Sabine was found still in his Marks and Spencer pyjamas 18 years after he died
But shortly before her death from cancer in October last year, she asked her to help move it from the garden shed to the attic.
Mrs Sabine looked after the communal garden at the apartment block and the body was in her shed.
The inquest heard she shared jokes “for years” with neighbour Michelle James about it – and when it was suggested it was real she laughed: “You never know.”
After her death, neighbours began moving her belongings.
They cut the packaging around the skeleton before they realised it could be human.
The inquest heard that a few months before she died, Mrs Sabine was having her hair done by hairdresser Bernadette Adamiec when she told her: “People are going to talk about me after I have gone. I could be famous.”
When Bernadette asked why she replied: “Because of the body in the bag.”
Police Community Support Officer Gareth Bishop said he was called to the house after the discovery of the skeleton and described “a strong rotting smell, like from a compost bin”.
The grim discovery was made 25 days after Mrs Sabine died of brain cancer in October 2015.
The couple emigrated to New Zealand in the sixties – but returned in the eighties to Britain, leaving their five children behind.
Police said Mrs Sabine was the main suspect in the death of her husband.
The inquest was told by a South Wales police officer Mrs Sabine was “likeable but not someone I’d trust”.
PC Joy Nicholls described her “clearly a very strong character” in several conversations over the years.
PC Nicholls said: “She had referred to her husband as a bastard. She said she was estranged from her family but didn’t want to talk about it.”
Her friend Lynne Williams saying in written evidence she “felt fooled” by lies Mrs Sabine had told about her background.
Mrs Williams said: “She said her husband was abusive and a womaniser.”
Mary West, a street pastor and executor of Mrs Sabine’s will, said in written evidence she had “span a myth about her life”.
Mrs West said: “She had stories of winning a modelling contract in Australia, a glamorous singing career and tales of her husband’s affairs.
“She took great pride in the communal garden area after her husband was gone.”