THE STOURPORT lovers who plotted the death of lorry driver Reginald Southall to cover up their affair and steal his money were each sentenced today to 18 years jail.

Judge Colman Treacy QC said that Muriel Southall and Michael Whitcombe had carried out a wicked murder and should spend a minimum of 18 years in custody before they can be considered for parole.

The pair, who were wearing hearing aids to hear the judge's sentence at Worcester Crown Court, showed no emotion as they left the dock for the cells.

Muriel Southall, 60, and Whitcombe, 59, had contested the case through every stage during the six weeks hearing.

The judge said that 62-year-old Reginald Southall had been cuckholded and lured to his death in the icy waters of the River Severn in December 2007. After his disappearance on a riverside walk, his badly-injured body was found floating 12 days later.

The defendants had been "blinded by passion for each other" and decided to get rid of Mr Southall when he discovered what had been going on.

Both had contested their guilt and had been revealed as liars and perjurors. They had shown no regret or remorse. They had attempted to deflect the police investigation by lying to cover up what they had done.

The judge said there had been planning and premeditation. For at least a day before Reginald Southall's death, they had been planning what they were going to do. Their motivation was to cover up their affair and financial gain was a subsidiary concern.

Mr Southall had been like a brother to Whitcombe in helping him to cope with the death of his wife from cancer. Mrs Southall had betrayed her husband of 42 years, father of her son and grandfather of her grandchildren, not only by her adulturous affair but by luring him to his violent death.

The only mitigation was their ages and the fact that they had no previous convictions.