IT was the last straw for ex-paratrooper Robert Holdworth when he found out his glamorous, honey-blond beautician wife, 14 years his junior, was having an affair with a man half his age and someone he had come to treat as a son.

A violent row in the couple’s Malvern home climaxed with Holdworth grabbing their baby’s reins and wrapping them tightly around the neck of 28-years-old Janice. As he slowly strangled her, he begged Janice to deny she was having an affair with Worcester nightclub bouncer Clive Corbett, aged 21.

But it was too late. Filled with panic and remorse, Holdsworth then made frantic efforts to revive his dead wife, with whom he was said to be totally besotted. However, as he held her lifeless body in his arms he was watched all the time by their four-year-old daughter and it was the child’s evidence that forced him to break down and confess what had happened. The little girl told police she had seen her mummy being carried bleeding upstairs by her daddy.

Even so, the body of Mrs Holdsworth was not found at the family home in Barrett Rise, Malvern. Instead it was recovered the next day from the boot of an abandoned Vauxhall Viva car left on a car park in Powells Row, St John’s Worcester.

At Hereford Crown Court in March, 1983, Robert John Holdsworth, aged 42 and described as a sales manager, stood in the dock charged with murdering Janice Mary Holdsworth. Alongside him appeared his 21-year-old son, Robert Anthony Holdsworth of Cowleigh Road, Malvern, accused of helping to hide her body.

In a way it was a case of karma. Because the whole saga had started back in the early 1970s in Yorkshire, when Robert Holdsworth first met Janice and after a secret affair, wooed her away from her young husband. The couple both gave up their jobs and came down to Worcestershire to live in a caravan at Clifton-on-Teme, virtually penniless. By the mid-70s they had moved into a house in the village.

Holdsworth already had three children by his first wife, but then had a vasectomy. After meeting Janice he had the operation reversed and  a daughter was born in 1978.  The following year the couple married and moved into the modern detached property in Malvern. In 1980 they had a second child.

To outsiders the Holdsworths appeared a perfectly normal couple. But behind closed doors Robert Holdsworth was becoming a Jekyll and Hyde character. He began drinking heavily and his mood swings went from passionate lover to intense jealousy. They sometimes ended with Janice being badly beaten.

An aggravating cause may have been that Holdsworth’s business deals  - he ran a cleaning and maintenance company - were going badly, racking up more than £35,000 of debt, while Janice enjoyed a successful career as a manager for a home beauty consultancy. She was, as a friend told the court: "Glamorous, lively, talented, everything a woman could want to be.”

Whatever the circumstances of the Holdsworth’s home life, into the toxic mix arrived nightclub bouncer, former scaffolder and sometime boxer Clive Corbett, a man who served a jail term for his part in a string of pub burglaries. At 21, Corbett was the same age as Holdsworth’s son Robert and the two had become friends. They shared accommodation for a while and Corbett  was a frequent visitor to the family home in Barrett Rise, being openly welcomed by the father.

Gradually an affair began to develop between Corbett and Janice Holdsworth, although his friends maintained it was purely casual as he was living apart from his estranged wife Gill and each found the other a shoulder to lean on. Corbett also said afterwards they were “just good friends”.

However, Robert Holdsworth senior didn’t see it that way. He found that wherever he went with his wife in Worcester – Tanya’s nightclub or Bobby McGee’s were favourites - Corbett seemed to turn up. Added to that friends had seen Janice and Corbett dancing cheek to cheek during a Falklands fund raising dance at the Colwall Park Hotel, near Malvern.

One night after a furious row at home, Holdworth ripped off the new dress he had bought his wife, tried to suffocate her and badly beat her. She escaped to a friend’s home fearing for her life. “When she came here, Janice looked terrible,” the friend told the Evening News. “He had really knocked her about and the blood vessels had burst in her eyes from when he had tried to throttle her.” Janice confided to the friend that Holdsworth had beaten her before, but only when drunk. This time he had been sober and she was very frightened.

Along with the friend, two children and Clive Corbett, Janice then left Malvern to move into her parent’s home near Halifax. However she returned occasionally to drive her husband on business after he was banned for drink driving and also to attend counselling sessions in an effort to save their marriage.

On Saturday, August 21, 1982, after attending a beauty seminar in Birmingham and then spending the night with Corbett in Worcester, she went to her home in Malvern, which was for sale. Holdworth had promised not to be there, but he lied. Together Janice and Robert Holdsworth showed a house hunting couple around the property, but within minutes of them leaving Holdsworth launched his attack and his wife was dead.

During his paratrooper days Holdsworth was known as a very efficient soldier and he brought all his training into play as he completely cleaned his wife’s body, even scraping under her fingernails. He enlisted the help of his son Robert, also an ex-para, to dispose of the body. They tied plastic bags over their hands and feet and threw the cords that had strangled Janice into the River Teme at Powick. They then dumped her body in the boot of the abandoned Vauxhall in St John’s, where it was discovered by children playing the following day. Holdsworth told police that as he put Janice in the car boot he kissed her on the cheek and said her he loved her. He had not meant to kill her.

Robert Holdsworth denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. A psychiatrist’s report said he had been suffering from “a mind abnormality” when he strangled his wife and he was jailed for two years by Mr Justice Hirst. His son Robert admitted helping to conceal his step-mother’s body and was jailed for nine months, suspended for a year.

Holdsworth’s sentence – he only actually served a few months in jail as he had been on remand in custody for eight months before the trial – infuriated Janice’s family and they appealed against its perceived leniency. But they were unsuccessful.