A “rejected” man has gone on trial accused of murdering a love rival whose body was found in a burning car in what jurors heard was a bid to make it look like suicide.
“Obsessive” Mark Chilman is accused of killing Neil Parkinson, who was discovered after police were called to a layby in Ankerdine Road, near the village of Cotheridge, Worcestershire, at 10.30pm on December 12 2020.
Mr Parkinson, of Clifton upon Teme, Worcestershire, was pronounced dead at the “quiet and remote” scene amid the torched wreckage of his BMW X5 4×4.
Prosecutors say 52-year-old Chilman made “plans to kill Mr Parkinson, to make it appear he had committed suicide” in order to “engineer a reconciliation with the woman he could not bear to see rejecting him”.
Opening the case at Worcester Crown Court on Monday, Mark Heywood QC, said: “At around 10.30pm, people who live nearby to that layby noticed the glow of a fire coming from it.
“When the fire officers were able to see into the car, they found the body of a man, subsequently identified as Neil Parkinson, was in the driver’s seat of that burning car.
“The evidence gathered in the investigation into how Mr Parkinson met his death that night demonstrates he was murdered, we say by this defendant, Mark Chilman, who had arranged the body in the car and set light to it to make it appear as though Mr Parkinson had killed himself.”
He added that, in June 2020, Chilman’s long-term girlfriend, Juliet Adcock, “had ended a long and – for her part – often unhappy relationship with Mr Chilman”.
Mr Heywood went on: “Rather than accept the reality, Mr Chilman continued to find pretexts to continue to have contact with her but he was also obsessively concerned with what she was doing.”
The jury was told that Chilman first got to know mother-of-three Ms Adcock after helping out at the farm in Bromyard, Herefordshire, where she previously lived, following her divorce.
Ms Adcock later described their relationship, which the court heard had started some time before 2014, as “muddling along”, as they moved to a new, smaller farm near the village of Broadwas, near Worcester.
The Crown’s barrister said there “came a point where their relationship began to founder” and that, as time went, by “Ms Adcock found Mark Chilman difficult to live with”.
By June 2020 the relationship was over, and “Mr Chilman didn’t take it well.”
In a series of events, he let himself into the farm and “helped himself” to books and cash which did not belong to him, and on another occasion left a noose, discovered by Ms Adcock.
Mr Heywood said: “He once left a message in lipstick on a mirror, telling her ‘I am sorry. Love forever, my darling. Sorry. Love Mark. XX’.”
He was also found “waiting in a layby near to the house” and, when challenged, said he was getting “better phone reception”.
Chilman also bought a tracking device and hid it on Ms Adcock’s car without her knowing.
He also took a sweater from her wardrobe, spraying it with the brand of perfume she wore – purchased online – and “cuddled it every night before he went to sleep”.
On the day of the incident, Chilman’s silver Mitsubishi truck had allegedly been spotted in the lane near the farm, jurors were told.
Later that evening, Mr Parkinson had dinner with Ms Adcock at her farm before heading home, where he looked after his mother, who was suffering from dementia, the court heard.
Ms Adcock would tell investigators he was “happy” and “in a good mood” when he left, just before 9.30pm.
The couple were set to book into a spa the following day, but when Ms Adcock sent a text message to Mr Parkinson shortly after he left, the usually quick-to-reply 66-year-old failed to do so.
At 10.17pm, she got a text, purporting to be from Mr Parkinson – but not from his usual phone number – which began: “Juliet, it’s Neil, on one of my other phones… I lead a double life, I use and abuse women.”
Mr Heywood said: “Her immediate thought was the words were very much the way Mr Chilman spoke, and how he expressed himself.”
Later analysis showed the message came from a phone which Mr Heywood said the prosecution know was purchased by Chilman in October 2020.
The text also referred to two petrol cans, which had disappeared from the farm some days earlier, which were found in the torched BMW.
After the fire, forensics experts, analysing the farm’s main gate, also found marks which turned out to be blood matching the DNA profile of Mr Parkinson.
Post-mortem examinations found evidence of a depressed fracture to the base of the victim’s skull which, with other findings, “suggests he was still unconscious when placed in the driving seat and the car set alight”, said Mr Heywood.
After being arrested, Chilman told police he had “wanted to chop off Neil’s c**k… with a penknife”, and had also “known Mr Parkinson was going to kill himself”, but had nothing to do with the killing.
Chilman, of Pencombe, Bromyard, Herefordshire, denies any wrongdoing and the trial continues.