A postmaster accused of murdering his wife spent expensive weekends away with her at luxury hotels, their temporary stand-in told a court.

Robin Garbutt, formerly of York and Huby, was struggling with £30,000 credit card debts and had been taking money from Melsonby Post Office, when he snapped and killed his unfaithful wife Diana, 40, formerly of Eggborough and Selby, then pretended she was killed by a robber, Teesside Crown Court has heard. He denies murder.

Brian Willis, a retired village postmaster living in Melsonby, covered for the Garbutts when they went on holiday on a number of occasions from 2004 to 2008, the jury was told.

He said since then he was surprised to find the Post Office was closed on certain Saturday mornings and Mondays, without the Garbutts organising relief, so they could go for weekends away.

Mr Willis said: “I was aware they had visited certain places for weekends which seem to me to have been rather extravagant locations to visit.

“I was quite surprised they were able to afford it. “On one occasion I heard they had gone to Swinton Park (a luxury castle hotel) for the weekend and on another occasion to the Star at Harome which my wife and I know personally is expensive to visit.”

Mrs Garbutt earned a postmistress’s salary of about £12,000, the court heard, and the couple ran the village shop which had a turnover of about £200,000.

Mr Willis said he had recently offered to provide cover for free, as a service to the village, but that was not taken up.

The trial continues.