RITA Tetsill first met John Taylor in Jersey where, in 1988, she was on holiday with her newly divorced close friend Alethea.
Twenty-five years later they faced each other across a courtroom with Taylor charged with her murder.
Mrs Taylor – as she became – and Mrs Tetsill taught together at Blackheath Primary School in the West Midlands, their friendship spanning 40 years.
Mrs Tetsill told the court how her friend’s first marriage had ended as a result of her then husband’s affair.
The future Mrs Taylor joined the Tetsills on holiday in Jersey, Taylor and his family were staying at the same boarding house in St Helier.
The friendship they all struck up led to invites to Taylor’s Leominster home, and Mrs Tetsill was always encouraged to bring her single friend along. She and Taylor began an affair that saw Taylor leave his wife.
By then, his soon-to-be wife had bought the bungalow in Orleton, Taylor moved in with her, and they married in 1996.
Taylor grew up in Leominster, the court heard how he had an extensive knowledge of the surrounding countryside. He worked as a manager at ATS Tyres in the town before starting a funeral business in 2007.
Retired from teaching, Mrs Taylor threw herself into all aspects of village and parish life from serving as a school governor to singing in several choirs.
She even became a National Trust guide at Berrington Hall.
Taylor had her helping out with the administration of the funeral business and playing the organ at services.
Together they moved - and were welcomed – within a wide social circle.
Mrs Taylor was said to never miss any kind of “card occasion” until all contact with her seemed to cease from early January 2012.
Mrs Tetsill spoke of the friend she could always call on and outwardly a strong, confident outgoing character, traits supported by evidence from other friends.
But under cross-examination by Jason Hughes, defending, She revealed another side to her friend.
The self-confidence on the surface stopped up emotions that could “boil over”.
“She kept things to herself, she wouldn’t talk about things, she coped by writing things down when she was worried, I never saw her cry,” said Mrs Tetsill.
Husband had no explanation for missing pillow and case
JOHN Taylor spent two days in the witness box denying he had anything to do with the disappearance or death of his wife.
In testy exchanges, Taylor challenged prosecution claims as to what could have happened to his wife.
Under cross-examination, Taylor was accused by Michael Burrows, prosecuting, of suffocating Mrs Taylor in bed with a pillow The court heard that the accusation was based on a pillowcase missing from the couple’s bed and blood on a duvet cover.
Taylor told the court he had no explanation as to why there was only one pillow in a purple pillowcase on the bed when police searched the house.
He also said he did not know why police could only find three purple pillowcases during the search.
Mr Burrows asked if the fourth was “stained with blood”.
Taylor said any staining had been caused by a nosebleed his wife suffered two days before she disappeared.
“I have never harmed Alethea,” Taylor told the jury. “I have never hurt Alethea and I certainly did not kill Alethea.”