A SHOPKEEPER accused of bludgeoning his wife to death was the only man she had ever trusted, his mother told a court.

The prosecution at Teesside Crown Court claims 45-year-old Robin Garbutt, formerly of Huby and York, killed his unfaithful wife, Diana, as she slept in their living quarters above The Village Shop and Post Office in Melsonby, near Richmond.

He denies murder, claiming a robber with a gun burst into the shop, made him hand over cash and when he went upstairs he found Diana, 40, motionless in a bedroom.

His mother, Joyce Brook, who is from the York area, said her daughter-in-law shared her feelings with her, and told her the good thing about being with Robin was that they could always talk.

“He was the one man, the only man, that she had ever trusted,” said Mrs Brook of Diana.

Mrs Brook said Diana had been abused in violent relationships with men previously and she denied Robin and Diana’s marriage was a sham.

“Di’s description of Robin, she used it often and certainly in the last two weeks (of her life), was that he was a top guy,” she said.

Dena Dalton, a teacher who lived in Melsonby, said Garbutt would be an ideal role model for her eight-year-old son, Thomas.

The mother-of-three, who set up a book club with Mrs Garbutt, said: “I stand here and say I haven’t met a more honest, more gentle, kinder person, than Robin. He would be an ideal role model for my son.”

People in the public gallery wept as she spoke.

Mrs Dalton said: “Di was one of the most loyal, reliable people that I can remember. She was a pleasure to be around.”

She said the couple had a loving and close relationship.

“They had what appeared to be a very close bond and a close friendship.”

The trial continues.