Aussie ex-policeman jailed for pushing wife off cliff

A former Australian policeman was jailed for at least 24 years on Friday for murdering his new bride by pushing her off a cliff during a camping trip.

Desmond Campbell, 52, forced his wife Janet over the 50-metre (160-foot) precipice and then said she slipped in the darkness after leaving their tent to go to the toilet, a court in Sydney heard.

Justice Megan Latham said Campbell, who had left the police and was working as a paramedic, killed his wife of six months for her money in an incident which showed “sustained callousness towards her for monetary gain”.

She said Campbell chose the “most sheer and prominent cliff” in the area south of Sydney for the murder in March 2005. Video footage has shown Campbell shedding tears while making a statement to police.

Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi earlier argued that Campbell had never held true affection for his wife and wanted her money to pay off his debts.

He said by the time the besotted Janet, 49, had purchased a home in both their names, Campbell “had got as much money out of her as he could and she was then worth more to him dead than alive”.

On the day Janet died, Campbell had pitched their tent “in the most unlikely, uncomfortable and unsafe spot one could imagine” close to a cliff edge, Tedeschi said.

During the four-week trial, the court heard that Campbell had jokingly referred to his new wife as so ugly “you’d have to chew your arm off if you woke up next to her”.

Campbell, who once worked as a policeman in Surrey, England, had three other girlfriends during the relationship and went on holiday with one of them in the weeks after Janet’s death, the court heard.

The victim’s brother Kevin Neander, who was in court for the verdict, delivered a parting shot.

“I hope Des is watching this,” he said. “I just reckon you are as low as a snake’s guts.”