AN 'evil' murderer may have killed his love rival even sooner if the opportunity had presented itself, a judge said.

Mark Chilman may have been planning to kill his victim Neil Parkinson four days before the murder said Judge James Burbidge QC but the murderer may have been 'thwarted' in his plot.

How we reported the sentence

The 52-year-old, branded 'evil' and 'calculating' by the victim's eldest son, Christopher Parkinson, already had an alibi ready four days before he struck, asking a friend to say the pair of them had been having a Chinese before the friend advised 'don't do this on your own'.

Brave son faces father's killer in court

Chilman was handed a life sentence for the murder of the 66-year-old retired grandfather at Worcester Crown Court on Monday.

How we reported the guilty verdict

Called 'heartless' and 'cruel' by the victim's 42-year-old son, Chilman was told by the judge he must serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars before he is even considered for release by the Parole Board.

Mr Parkinson's body was found in the driver's seat of his burnt out BMW X5 in Ankerdine Road, Cotheridge, near Worcester on December 12 last year. Chilman had struck him from behind with an unknown weapon at the gate of Giltedge Farm, Broadwas before driving the unconscious grandfather to the lay-by and setting him and his car on fire.

He created the blaze with 40 litres of petrol from two jerry cans which he had taken from his former partner's farm.

On December 8 last year Chilman sent a text to his friend and agent Andy Underwood telling him to say that, if anyone asked, he was having a Chinese with him that night.

Chilman wrote: "I'm ready to go down for it. Nothing left."

Judge Burbidge, responding to this evidence before passing sentence, said: "There was a chance it could have happened on December 8 with the establishing of the alibi with Mr Underwood."

He told Chilman: "It may have been you were thwarted in your plan for some reason that day."

Judge Burbidge also referred to comments Chilman had made at the Dewdrop Inn on July 31 last year when he was heard to say he wanted to castrate Mr Parkinson.

Chilman, who claimed in the witness box it was 'a joke', was heard to say: "I want that bastard sorted big time. They can take me out as well the way I'm feeling."

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, had argued that aggravating features of the case had included 'a significant degree of planning or pre-meditation' and the burning of Mr Parkinson's body. The concealment, destruction or dismemberment of a body is considered an aggravating feature in murder cases.

Even Chilman's own barrister Alisdair Williamson QC said: "I have to accept that there's clear evidence of planning."

He added: "Mr Chilman knows there's little that can be said in the circumstances."