Earls Barton murder victim's children warn of domestic abuse signs as case features on BBC's Crimewatch

Marion Price's children spoke about their bubbly mum and urged people to speak out against domestic abuse

Monday, 15th March 2021, 6:25 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 6:32 pm
Marion Price.

The horrific murder of Marion Price in Earls Barton featured on BBC's Crimewatch Live today (Monday) as her children urged people to speak out against the signs domestic abuse.

'Fun and bubbly' grandmother Marion, 63, was shot dead in cold blood by her estranged husband Michael Reader, 70, after she pulled up outside her Packwood Crescent home on December 15, 2019.

Reader and best friend Stephen Welch, 61, were convicted of murder last year after an eight-week trial which heard how he was a manipulative bully who couldn't stand Marion taking back control of her life after she plucked up the courage to leave him. Welch had helped him stalk her for several months before picking him up after the shooting.

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Reader (left) and Welch (right).

The pair were jailed for life with Reader told he would serve a minimum of 31 years behind bars and Welch told to serve a minimum of 27 years.

Today BBC Crimewatch featured the complex investigation which led to their conviction, as well as interviews with Marion's children, Toni Brown and Gary Price, as well as Detective Chief Inspector Joe Banfield.

It also featured a harrowing reconstruction of Marion's journey to her flat and Reader lying in wait for her before the shooting.

In the trial jurors heard how loving grandmother Marion and Reader met online in 2012 and embarked on a whirlwind romance, marrying just months later.

Gary and Toni pictured outside court.

But weeks later, the mum-of-two told a colleague she feared she'd made a big mistake and Reader was "not who she thought he was".

On the show Toni said: "My mum was kind, thoughtful and funny. She was lovely and there for me and my brother.

“She met Mike online and the first time I met him, about six weeks later, we went for a meal and she was already flashing this engagement ring at me.

“He would play the nice guy to the right people."

DCI Joe Banfield.

Gary added: "The first time I met him was when my mum was already living with him. It was all very quick.

"Something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t figure out why she wanted to marry him. He would do things that he knew would upset my mum.”

Marion later plucked up the courage to leave her controlling husband, who was then cleared of GBH after she was attacked with a mallet.

Just days before the murder he had been due to pay her £10,000 from a settlement after a bitter divorce.

Over the course of several months Reader, assisted by Welch, stalked Marion by tracking her movements before waiting for her on a motorbike on December 15.

There he followed her to her flat in and shot her once through her car window before she had even had the chance to take off her seatbelt. Her body was discovered slumped in the car three hours later after a neighbour noticed her windows were smashed.

Shortly after the shooting Welch picked his friend of more than 30 years up and then dumped items in the River Nene in Northampton before flying to Spain.

After Marion was shot police visited the arrogant Reader where he was found eating a Magnum, drinking a gin and tonic and watching snooker at home just hours after her death. Footage of his arrest was shown on Crimewatch today.

He denied having seen her and tried to convince a jury it wasn't him, despite phone data placing him at the scene, witnesses giving evidence that he had previously threatened to kill her and a jacket with gunshot residue being found at his house.

But jury members saw straight through his lies and unanimously found him guilty, with Welch found guilty by a majority verdict after deliberations lasting for more than three days.

DCI Joe Banfield said: "This investigation is one that will stay with me forever. He controlled where she went, what she did, what she spent her money on.

"He planned for weeks and months that he was going to kill her. He was jealous of her and couldn’t come to terms with why she left him.

"The fact that the court had awarded money from him to her seemed to tip the balance. They planned it meticulously.

Marion's son Gary urged people to speak out against signs of domestic abuse.

He said: "People that are in an abusive relationship don't always don't always know they're in an abusive relationship until it's too late.

"I would say people around the person in the relationship, would probably notice before they do.

"Tell a friend, tell the police if it's that bad, just tell anyone."

You can watch the episode on iPlayer here until 11.45am tomorrow morning (Tuesday).