Audio: Family of murdered Emma Ward plead with killer husband to help them find her body
Murdered Emma Ward told her husband 'I feel tricked, you only care about yourself' just days before he killed her in a brutal attack at their Norfolk home.
In a letter which prosecutors say could have been penned the day before she was murdered by Nicky Ward, the 22-year-old pleaded with him to show her some love adding: 'Marriages need TLC like a car needs looking after'.
Friends released photographs of Emma smiling on her wedding day saying they wanted her to be remembered as the 'happy and chatty' woman she was. But they added that Ward was a lazy and inattentive husband and the marriage soon turned to misery.
The court heard that the couple had a fractious relationship but Mrs Ward, formerly Noonan, had tried to give unemployed Ward a second chance. However, the relationship deteriorated and, although Ward's denial means he gave no explanation for his crime, the letter suggests he knew Emma was on the verge of leaving him.
Ward, 29, of Chapel Street, Rockland St Peter, Attleborough, sobbed in the dock at Norwich Crown Court after jurors unanimously found him guilty of murder after four hours of deliberation.
Outside court loved ones pleaded with Ward to help police locate her body saying: 'Let us put her to rest'. In the aftermath of the killing, Ward cut up his wife's body in the bath at their cottage in Rockland St Peter using an electric saw. No trace of Emma has ever been found.
Ward had denied murder saying he killed his wife by accident and insisting he could not recall disposing of the body.
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But investigator said he was a 'cold and calculating' killer, determined to cover his tracks by hiding the body and redecorating the couple's home in a desperate attempt to mask forensic evidence. Prosecutor Simon Spence said Ward had fabricated his memory loss in an attempt to escape prosecution.
Police established that she was killed at some point between late March and May last year. It is not known whether she lived to see her 22nd birthday on April 9.
Outside court friends and family said they were pleased justice had been done but said they could not put the matter to rest until Mrs Ward's body had be found.
Her brother, Alex Noonan, read a statement on behalf of the family. He said: 'Today justice has been done. The last year has been the most traumatic and stressful time for us all as a family. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and terror Emma must have felt. It is so unbearable to think about.
'We are all truly devastated by having my sister taken from us in such a cruel way. We have not been able to grieve for Emma because we do not know where she is.
'All we want is to be given the opportunity to say our final goodbyes and let her rest in peace. If Nick Ward has any remorse he must do the decent thing and tell us where he has put Emma.
'Emma was a beautiful young woman and a fantastic sister and a truly loved daughter. She will be so missed by all.
'Emma will never be forgotten. She will always be loved and will always be in our thoughts.'
Sentencing Ward to serve a minimum of 22 years of a life sentence, Judge Peter Jacobs added his voice to pleas for the killer to help officer locate the body.
He said: 'There is no body to cremate or bury and therefore the family have been denied the closure that those who lose children in horrendous circumstance are entitled to have.'
Det Chief Insp Neil Luckett, who lead the investigation, said: 'I am obviously pleased that Nicky Ward has been convicted of Emma's murder and brings to a successful conclusion this part of the investigation.
'This is a tragic case and until we find Emma her family and friends will never be able to achieve any real closure. Despite extensive searches, to date, we have not found her. Only one person knows where she is and that person is Nicky Ward. I hope that he will now have the decency to tell me where Emma is.
'I would like to pay tribute to Emma's family for the courage and quiet dignity they have displayed in extremely difficult circumstances and to the prosecution, investigation and forensic teams for their diligence and perseverance in a challenging investigation.'