AN 'obsessed' murderer made his former partner and her family feel like prisoners in their own home before he went on to kill his love rival.

Mark Chilman was sentenced to a life in prison and must serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars for the murder of Neil Parkinson before he is even considered for parole.

The 52-year-old appeared downcast in the dock but otherwise impassive at Worcester Crown Court yesterday as the sentence was handed down by Judge James Burbidge QC.

Mr Parkinson's body was found by fire crews in his burnt out car in the layby in Ankerdine Road, Cotheridge, near Worcester on December 12 last year.

As previously reported, the 66-year-old had been hit over the head with an unknown weapon at the gateway to Giltedge Farm, Broadwas, before he was driven to the layby and set on fire using 40 litres of petrol.

The murder, staged by the killer to look like a suicide, happened after Mr Parkinson had formed an intimate relationship with Juliet Adcock, the man who had replaced handyman Chilman in her affections.

Holly Bradshaw, the daughter of Ms Adcock, made a victim personal statement on behalf of the Adcock family which was read out by Mark Heywood QC who had prosecuted the case.

Miss Bradshaw, who in her trial described Chilman as a 'layby lurker', said: "We felt we were prisoners in our own home, always looking over our shoulder."

She described Chilman's behaviour as coercive and how his actions created tension within her family, using the 'threat of suicide' to manipulate their emotions. During the trial the court heard how Chilman left a noose at Giltedge Farm in Broadwas, the home he had once shared with Ms Adcock, and had threatened to hang himself. He also left love notes in lipstick on mirrors at the farm.

Chilman's arrest resulted in 'sleepless nights' and 'nightmares' and had left Ms Adcock feeling 'vulnerable and anxious in her own home'. She said that Chilman had 'not only taken the precious life of a wonderful man' but 'what was to be a happy and contended future'.

"We must now try and pick up the pieces and rebuild our lives step by step" said Miss Bradshaw.

Explaining how difficult it was to express the family's emotions in words, she added: "While this has brought justice for Neil there is still the emptiness because he's not here."

She went on to call Mr Parkinson 'a loving father, grandfather and partner to my mum and, to me, a cherished friend'. Mrs Bradshaw referred to 'the huge void' his death had brought and 'dark days with feelings of overwhelming sadness and heartache'.

"I would like to offer my condolences to Neil's family as I can only imagine the pain they must be feeling in his absence," she said.

During the trial Miss Bradshaw told the jury she had been leaving with her husband to get pizza when they both saw Chilman's Mitsubishi on the lane near the farm on the night of Mr Parkinson's murder.

She said she could not be '100 per cent' it was Mark as it was dark and because of the glare of the headlights but was '100 per cent sure it was his car'. The man she saw was of 'similar stature' to Chilman and she said he 'turned his face down so that I couldn't clearly see '.

Chilman had left his mobile phone in Bromyard Downs, knowing it could be tracked, but this sighting by Miss Adcock was one of the pieces of evidence which helped undermine the defendant's alibi, forcing him to change his account.

The suicide text, purporting to be from Mr Parkinson, was sent by Chilman using an unregistered pay as you go mobile phone.