A STOURPORT wife who became a murder suspect after her husband's disappearance became increasingly worried as police stepped up their investigation, a jury was told.

Muriel Southall complained that "tittle tattle" on the caravan site where the couple lived was being passed to detectives and that she and her alleged lover, 59-year-old Michael Whitcombe, were being followed.

Police had secretly installed a listening device in her car and a record of her conversations was played to a jury at Worcester Crown Court.

Southall, 60, of Redstone Lane, Stourport, and Whitcombe, of Worcester Road, Stourport, plead not guilty to murdering 62-year-old Reginald Southall on December 4, 2007 and attempting to pervert justice by giving false information to the police.

Mr Southall, a lorry driver, vanished after going for a walk along the River Severn at Stourport with his wife.

She returned to their caravan but he was not seen again until his badly-injured body was found in the river 12 days later.

The prosecution alleges that the pair killed Mr Southall in a plot to get the £50,000 proceeds of his house sale in Pensnett, West Midlands.

After being told that the police investigation was being stepped up, Southall telephoned Whitcombe that the case was being treated as an unexplained death and she was "keeping her mouth shut."

Whitcombe assured her that if anything came out of the investigation, she would not be going down.

She worried that police were "chewing over" the facts and she suggested that the pair should talk in code.

In another overheard conversation, she claimed the police had no evidence although she admitted she was their number one suspect.

Southall's sister, Helen Cook, said she was phoned at her Stourbridge home at 23.45pm on the night Mr Southall disapeared.

His wife was distraught and said her husband had not returned from a walk. But she was unable to give Miss Cook a lift to Stourport because she had taken her medication.

Philip Southall said his mother stayed with his family for a month after his father's body had been found.

His parents had discussed in the summer hiring a chalet near Bewdley to cover the month their Stourport caravan site was closed.

The court was told that Southall paid the rental for the chalet and that Whitcombe had stayed there.

The trial continues.