A “vile monster” who murdered his wife in a drive-by shooting after being told to pay £10,000 in a divorce settlement has been jailed.
Michael Reader, 70, killed Marion Price with a shotgun as she sat in her car outside her house in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, on 15 December last year.
It came days after he was ordered to pay the five-figure sum to the 63-year-old grandmother-of-three, who he shot as he drove past on a motorbike.
Judge Adrienne Lucking QC said it was a “cold-blooded execution” and warned he could die in prison after sentencing him to 31 years at Northampton Crown Court on Monday.
She said the shooting was “an act of revenge, for the financial consequences of the divorce and punishment for the fact that Marion had moved on with her life after an abusive marriage”.
Price had been happy before meeting Reader via the internet in 2012 and told a colleague within a month that she had made a mistake, the judge said.
Her son Gary Price, who described her as “the most amazing, kind, bubbly, excitable, beautiful human being”, said she had met a “vile monster”.
“We would find out he was obsessed with money, manipulating, controlling, disgusting, and very sad,” he said.
“My mother was a strong woman and she stood up for herself – unfortunately this is what led to her murder.”
In one instance, the court heard, Reader, of Northampton, left Price stranded in London because she dared to get up and dance at the Jersey Boys musical in 2017.
He later attacked Price’s elderly mother, who she had moved back in with, when she told Reader she would no longer pay his bills. The elderly mother suffered broken fingers.
“You shot Marion Price through the window of her car – out of jealously and as a cold-blooded act of revenge for the financial costs of the divorce,” the judge said.
The shotgun and motorbike were never recovered.
After the court order, Price had told friends she was scared of what “Reader would do next”.
Reader was described as a “controlling husband” who placed a tracker on Price’s car after their separation and told her: “If you leave me, I'll kill you.”
Reader was convicted of Price’s murder after an eight-week trial.
His best friend Stephen Welch, 61, of Northampton, described by the judge as a “willing assistant”, was given life with a minimum of 27 years.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Banfield, of Northamptonshire Police, said previously: “Michael Reader is a manipulative, controlling bully, who could not stand the fact that Marion Price had escaped his clutches, left him, and was starting to enjoy her life again.
“The campaign of abuse Reader imposed on Marion throughout their marriage caused her to live in almost constant fear.
“He continuously put her down, ridiculed her, used threats of violence and made her life hell while they were together.”