"People will say I’m blinded by love but I know my fiancé is not a killer !"
Debbie Garlick cradles her seven-week-old daughter, vowing to stand by her man serving life in jail – even though he has been locked up for killing his wife.
Her partner Adrian Prout, 45, was convicted earlier this month of murdering his estranged spouse Kate and sentenced to a minimum 18 years in jail.
No trace of Kate, who was 55, has been found since she vanished in 2007. Her body could even be buried on the very farm in Redmarley D’Abitot, Glocs, where Debbie is now raising their daughter Evie alone.
Prior to Kate’s disappearance Adrian had threatened to kill her, and he also failed to report her disappearance for five days – which helped lead to his arrest.
But despite the fact that Kate’s credit cards, mobile phone and passport were all left in the house and she had no plans to leave, Debbie is adamant she is alive – and is even offering a £10,000 reward to anyone who can locate her.
“I know people will say I’m naive and blinded by love, I’m not stupid,” she says. “But how can you jail someone for murder with no evidence and no body?
“I don’t care what people think. I know Adrian isn’t a killer and I will do all I can to prove it.”
Debbie’s dedication to her boyfriend comes at a high price – as well as the cash reward she has spent thousands of pounds trying to prove he is innocent.
She faces 18 years raising her daughter alone – but plans to take Evie to visit her father and will marry the convicted killer behind bars. “Evie’s the best thing that could have happened to us,” she says tearfully.
“I feel she’s a physical bond between me and Adrian. At the same time she looks so much like him that it’s upsetting. Every time I look at her I think of him inside and it breaks my heart.”
Debbie, who has two kids from her previous marriage, first met Adrian in December 2007 at her local pub in Staunton – the neighbouring village to Redmarley.
At first, as she chatted to Adrian, she had no idea he was the man whose wife had disappeared under suspicious circumstances and everyone was gossiping about.
“My first impression of Adrian was that he was really quiet and gentle,” she says. “He had to be careful, he didn’t want everyone to notice him and wanted to keep a low profile. At first he didn’t trust me – he thought I was a reporter!”
It wasn’t until May 2008 that they bumped into each other again and started dating. But even when she discovered who he was, her reaction seems blasé.
“We went to a nature park and for dinner,” she says. “After that we saw each other every day.
“As we got closer he was really good fun – the life and soul of the party. Now the house feels empty without him.
"I divorced my first husband and my second partner of 11 years died four years ago. Adrian made me happy again. He made me strong. We're soul mates. I never asked him if he killed Kate because I knew he wasn't capable of doing something like that. But he has told me he didn't do it."
But soon, Debbie got a taste of what being romantically involved with a murder suspect entails. Adrian was arrested and released several times – then remanded in custody for a month.
On his release, in June 2009, he proposed to Debbie, who was already expecting their first child. “We’ll get married in prison towards the end of the year, if we can,” she reveals.
Sitting in the front room of the house Adrian once shared with Kate, Debbie, who has huge bags under her eyes from crying, says the weeks since her partner’s conviction have been a haze.
She admits that she was so sure that Adrian would walk free from Bristol Crown Court that a party to celebrate his freedom had already been planned.
But while she is unwavering in her insistence of her lover’s innocence, the evidence used to convict Adrian is damning.
During the court case the prosecution team revealed how they believed Adrian had killed his wife with his bare hands and disposed of her body. Prior to the murder, Adrian and his wife were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce and Kate’s demands that her estranged husband increase her divorce settlement to £800,000 alarmed him. Not least as it would have cost him his £1.2 million Gloucestershire farm.
The court heard that as the warring couple had continued to live in the same house, relations became increasingly bitter, with Adrian threatening to kill Kate.
He warned that he knew people who could “get rid of bodies”… and he owned a pipe-laying company that used heavy digging equipment.
Chilling entries from Kate’s diary also detailed the turbulent nature of their relationship – with Kate writing about how Adrian had threatened to finish her off by pushing her into the empty swimming pool at their home.
One of the last entries, just weeks before she died, read: “Had row. Said he couldn’t wait to ‘get rid of me’ out of his life.”
Police believe Adrian finally carried out his threats on November 5, 2007 – killing his wife and possibly burying her alongside pipes he’d laid. Another grisly theory was that he’d fed her remains to the pigs he kept on the farm – an accusation Debbie dismisses as ridiculous.
“The thought of Adrian killing her and burying her with the pipes is laughable,” she insists. “And as for feeding her to the pigs. It’s ridiculous.
“There were only four pigs anyway.
“He liked the farm but it wasn’t his life. He’d been to the bank and could’ve given her £720,000.
“He was hardworking and even if he had lost the farm he would have just started up again.”
Kate’s brother Richard Wakefield said after the verdict: “We appeal to Adrian to tell us what happened to Kate and where she is because we would like to lay her to rest and say goodbye.”
But Debbie explains how Kate must still be alive. Her disappearance, she believes, is a “conspiracy” to frame Adrian for murder.
Debbie also has a theory as to why Kate has not touched her bank account. “Adrian is very generous with money,” she explains. “Whenever I asked him for money he gave it to me, so who knows how much she could have saved up to live off?”
In court, Adrian also claimed Kate ran off “to wind him up” after their seven-year marriage collapsed. Debbie is continuing her fight to clear Adrian’s name and is looking at an appeal against his conviction.
“It’s hard picturing Adrian in jail and it upsets me,” she says. “Eighteen years seems like a long time but if that’s how long it takes, I’ll wait. Hopefully, it won’t come to that and he’ll be released.”
But even if she does have to wait 18 years, she has vowed to stand by Adrian – who she speaks to on the phone from HMP Bristol “three to four times a day”.
Adrian also has the support of their friends and family, including her parents and his daughter Laura, 19, from a relationship he had before marrying Kate.
“I have my family to think about,” she adds. “Do you think I’d risk them around Adrian if I thought he was a killer? Even though we’ve gone through all this I don’t regret getting together with him,” she adds defiantly. “Not a bit.”http://www.mirror.co.uk/life-style/real-life/2010/02/24/people-will-say-i-m-blinded-by-love-but-i-know-my-fiancee-is-not-a-killer-exclusive-115875-22065117/