‘Despicable’ handyman jailed for life over car-fire murder of love rival

Obsessive Mark Chilman ‘lay in wait’ for his victim after dark, after plotting to kill the man dating his ex-partner.

Mark Chilman
Mark Chilman

An obsessive handyman convicted of murdering a love rival and leaving his body in a burning car to make it look like suicide has been jailed for the “despicable” crime.

Mark Chilman killed Neil Parkinson, who was discovered after police were called to a layby in Ankerdine Road, near the village of Cotheridge, Worcestershire, at 10.30pm on December 12 last year.

Mr Parkinson, 66, of Clifton upon Teme, Worcestershire, was pronounced dead at the “quiet and remote” scene amid the torched wreckage of his BMW X5 4×4.

A trial heard Chilman told police: “Whatever, he’s out of the way now”, when detectives suggested to him that the blaze looked suspicious.

Victim, Neil Parkinson
Neil Parkinson was found dead after a car fire (West Mercia Police/PA)

The 52-year-old, of Pencombe near Bromyard, Herefordshire, was convicted by a jury of murdering Mr Parkinson and sentenced to life imprisonment at Worcester Crown Court on Monday.

Jailing Chilman for a minimum of 22 years, Judge James Burbidge QC said his crime had left Mr Parkinson’s family and loved ones, including Chilman’s ex-partner Juliet Adcock “shattered and grieving”.

Sentencing him, the judge said Mr Parkinson had been a man with “many years to live and much to live and look forward to”.

“On December 12, 2020, you lay in wait in a remote area near Gilt Edge Farm, Broadwas.

“It was your intention to do harm to someone who had replaced you in the affections of your previous partner Juliet Adcock – something you could not countenance for, as you said in your police interview, ‘I love her to bits… I am obsessed with her’.

“On another occasion you said, ‘she was my property’, as well ‘my chunk of gold’.”

The judge said Chilman had “immediately harboured a desire to do Mr Parkinson harm”, as soon as he heard Ms Adcock had moved on with her life.

Chilman then set about preparing for his crime, “scoping” the farm, stealing two petrol jerry cans, buying disposable mobile phones and leaving his own phone in another location – while asking a friend to give him a false alibi.

The judge told Chilman, who was in the dock wearing a checked shirt and jeans: “It is difficult for the court to conclude you intended anything other than to kill.”

Chilman armed himself with a weapon – possibly a hammer – and lay in wait in the night for Mr Parkinson to leave Ms Adcock’s farm, before striking him on the back of the head.

Judge Burbidge said: “I am satisfied when Mr Parkinson drove down the driveway away from the the farm to the gate, in order to go and care for his dementia-suffering 94-year-old mother – as he did each and every evening – when he got out of the vehicle to lock the gate… you sprung upon him.”

Mr Parkinson was hit with such force, it fractured the base of his skull rendering him unconscious.

The judge said: “You drove him to a layby and there, in his own car, arranged him in the driver’s seat and poured petrol over him and the vehicle.”

“Mercifully, he would have known nothing of the conflagration,” the judge added.

As his victim burned, Chilman used a disposable phoned to send what the judge described as a “lengthy text (message) in despicable and defamatory terms, trying to suggest it was Mr Parkinson himself attempting to commit suicide”.

“You must have sent that text at the time Mr Parkinson was being immolated,” Judge Burbidge said.

After his arrest, Chilman told police “lie upon lie”, changing his story to fit the evidence.

Judge Burbidge accepted the death of Chilman’s father some years before hit him hard, adding the loss of his relationship with Ms Adcock had sent his world “crashing down”.

But the judge said Chilman’s love and affection for Ms Adcock became “misplaced”, and he “could not bear for her to be happy with anyone else”.

As he was jailed, Chilman set his lower jaw, clasping his hands in front of him and blinked, before continuing to stare straight ahead, looking neither left nor right, as he was taken down to the cells below court.

It emerged during the hearing that remorseless Chilman had been attempting correspondence with his ex-partner Ms Adcock from his jail cell.

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