Man murdered wife when she left him after years of abuse

John Lizanec murdered mother-of-three Michelle and tried to claim she took her own life.

An abusive husband who cut his wife’s throat after she left him has been jailed for life.

John Lizanec murdered mother-of-three Michelle and tried to claim she took her own life in Perthshire in February 2021.

A judge ordered that he should serve at least 24 years in prison after slaying his spouse and told him: “It is perfectly possible you will never be released.”

Lizanec attacked his 44-year-old wife with a knife after she broke up with him following years of controlling and derogatory behaviour. 

He cut her throat and put her body into an airing cupboard at his home before fleeing to his mother’s house in Dundee where he sparked a siege after arming himself with another knife.

John Lizanec murdered mother-of-three Michelle and tried to claim she took her own life in Perthshire in February 2021.Police Scotland

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Fairley told him: “The evidence showed you to be an abusive bully and like all bullies you are a coward.”

The judge said it was only a matter of weeks before Lizanec murdered his wife that she had managed to escape from his coercive behaviour and was in the process of starting a new life.  

He said the killer’s attempts to suggest that his spouse took her own life were “preposterous”.

The former soldier denied murdering his wife at his home at 101 Orchard Way, Inchture, in Perthshire, and claimed that the victim performed suicide on February 13, 2021.

Lizanec subjected his victim to abusive behaviour over 11 years during which he threatened her family, made threats to kill any future new partner, threatened to harm her two pet dogs, isolated her from family and friends, dictated how she dressed and monitored her calls and messages.

He was found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by hiding his wife’s body and fleeing to his mother’s home in Dundee.

He was convicted of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at her property on February 14 in 2021 by barricading himself in and refusing to leave, arming himself with a knife, repeatedly holding the weapon to his neck and threatening to kill himself.

The jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all the charges.

After the murder, Lizanec was arrested and remanded in prison before he wrote a letter to his wife’s father, William Dewar.

In it he asked for cash and clothes to be sent to him and claimed that his wife must have been “so depressed and hurting” and maintained that she was suffering through the menopause.

But Mr Dewar told the court he did not believe his daughter was depressed and said: “I had never seen her so happy, getting this new house and getting away from Mr Lizanec.”

He said: “He is blaming everybody else for what has happened.”

Mr Dewar said his daughter, who had made contact with Women’s Aid, had a new address in Scone, in Perthshire.

Prosecutor Shanti Maguire asked him to describe his daughter’s mood when she signed papers for her new home and he replied: “Elated”.

“It was the first time I had seen her happy in a long, long time and everybody said the same thing that they had never seen her so happy,” said Mr Dewar.

In the letter Lizanec wrote: “I couldn’t stop Shell (Michelle) and she must have been so depressed and hurting.”

The court heard from Michelle’s children who spoke of the “toxic” home they shared with Lizanec.

Lord Fairley told the former Black Watch soldier that the penalty for murder was fixed by law as life imprisonment but he was required to set a punishment part for the term he must serve before he is eligible to be considered for release by parole authorities.

Members of Lizanec’s family spoke their “relief’ at him being found guilty of murder and of their hope for closure.

Speaking outside the High Court in Edinburgh, his daughter Ebony – who had earlier told jurors about the “extremely toxic” atmosphere that the killer created at his home – said: “I’m glad we finally got justice and can show what kind of person he actually is.”

She said the sentence would help her and her family move on from the trauma of having Michelle taken from them.

She added: “I think it will take time but at least it’s done – we’ve waited three years for this. Right now, it’s life changing for us to get him convicted on all five charges. It’s what we wanted.

“We can actually now progress with our lives and get on with it and enjoy it again – it’s 100% relief. We could not be happier.”

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