A SHOPKEEPER serving a life sentence for bludgeoning his wife to death is appealing against his conviction.

Robin Garbutt, 46, formerly of York and Haxby, was found guilty of murder in April.

He was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years before being considered for release. But an appeal, led by his barrister Jamie Hill QC, was formally lodged today.

Garbutt's sister, Sallie Wood, has vowed to fight until her dying day to prove his innocence.

A jury heard how Garbutt battered his wife Diana, 40, to death in their bedroom before opening their post office and shop in the North Yorkshire village of Melsonby as normal.

The jury rejected his story that a raider with a gun told him "Don't do anything stupid, we've got your wife" before robbing him as he worked. Mr Justice Openshaw, sentencing, said Garbutt's version of events was a "ludicrous story from beginning to end".

In a statement issued by his family, Sallie Wood said her brother had remained "brave" throughout his trial and imprisonment.

"We welcome today's news which we hope will result in the overturning of this terrible miscarriage of justice," she said.

"My family has been devastated by the events of the last 18 months but have been strengthened by Robin's unwavering bravery - firstly in the face of the questionable allegations and then on being convicted of a crime he didn't commit."

Before moving to Melsonby, the Garbutts lived in York, where Garbutt had worked as the managing director of a family firm.

Mrs Garbutt, who grew up in Selby and Eggborough and who attended Brayton High School and Selby College, was found dead at the couple's post office home, bludgeoned to death by a metal bar in the early hours of March 23, 2010.

Garbutt phoned the police and told them his wife had been held hostage by armed robbers and killed before they stole money from the post office safe. He was later found guilty of her murder.

However, Ms Wood said she believed Mrs Garbutt's killers were still at large.

"We hope that, whoever they are, they will eventually be caught and brought to justice, although the damage to my brother will never be repaired," she said.

"He loved and worshipped Di - anybody who knows him knows he was devoted to her. Being accused of killing her has left him with a broken heart which will never mend."

Garbutt is currently in Frankland Maximum Security Prison in Durham, and Ms Wood said knowing her brother was there was "a living nightmare" which had affected their family terribly.

"Robin and his family have been overwhelmed by the support from friends and neighbours as well as from total strangers," she said.

"He has received more than 500 letters and cards while in prison. Knowing that all those people believe in my brother keeps me, my mum and the rest of the family going and gives us the strength to fight for his name to be cleared."