‘Murdered’ Emma’s last movements relived at Norwich Crown Court

The parents of a woman allegedly murdered at her cottage in a Norfolk village yesterday described the last time they saw their daughter alive.

Emma Ward, 22, vanished from her home in Rockland St Peter, near Attleborough, nearly two months before police and forensic scientist found evidence which suggested she had been murdered.

Prosecutors allege that her husband, Nicky Ward, 29, then dismembered her body in the bath using an electric saw before disposing of the body parts. No trace of Mrs Ward has ever been found.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court, her father, David Noonan, said he last saw Mrs Ward by the village duck pond on March 23. 'We both acknowledged each other,' he added.

He and his wife lived in the adjoining village of Rockland All Saints. Mr Noonan said that after that date he called at the house and telephone the couple's landline on a number of occasions: 'Sometimes the phone would ring for a long time and sometimes Nick Ward would answer.

'The house appeared as though there was nobody there but I think Nick Ward was there. I knocked on the door and went around the back but there was no reply.

'The curtains were drawn but I did take a peep and the house was an absolute mess. Emma loved that house and was very house proud.'

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Detectives launched an inquiry on May 24 after Mrs Ward was reported missing. Prosecutor Simon Spence said officers found evidence that Ward had painted the bedrooms walls but blood stains remained. There were blood smeared scratches in the bath and human remains were found on an electrical saw.

Ward, of Chapel Road, Rockland St Peter, denies murder and told police that his wife had left him for another man.

Mrs Ward's mother, Elaine Noonan, of Rockland All Saints, Norfolk, said she last saw her daughter on March 14 2010 - Mothering Sunday.

Jurors were told how the couple married in 2007 after meeting at a party but had encountered 'rocky patches'. Mrs Noonan said there had been 'numerous domestic incidents' and her daughter had left Ward for a time after having an affair with a chef at the pub where she worked.

She said her daughter had described Ward as a 'lazy, good-for-nothing lay-about'.

Friends said they had not seen or heard from her since March 27 and she had stopped answering texts and Facebook messages.

Kirsty Sillett, a close friend of Mrs Ward, said she grew suspicious when she called at the couple's home and Mr Ward seemed 'cagey'

She said: 'One day I visited the house and noticed he was wearing a tool belt which was not like him. I asked him if he was doing some DIY and he said 'something like that'.'

Mrs Ward used Facebook regularly and did not reply to birthday messages posted on her page on April 9.

Miss Sillett said she noticed Ward had changed his relationship status on the website from 'married' to 'single'.

Esther Maginn from the Pelican pub in Talconeston said that she met Emma Ward when she applied to work full time at her pub.

Mrs Ward had been working at the Bird in Hand at Wreningham for 18 months to two years but had recently left her job. It later emerged Mrs Ward had been having an affair with the chef and did not know if she still wanted to be married.

Ms Maginn said that on one occasion Mrs Ward and talked about her private life and whether she had married too young.

David Reger who runs Nuts and Bolts hardware shop in Attleborough told how Ward had hired carpet cleaning equipment and bought items including a saw, saw blades and paint.

Sheryl Sexton who works at the Post Office in Attleborough described how Ward had asked for his and Mrs Ward's mail to be redirected to an address in Basildon.

The trial continues and is expected to last about one week.