A SHOPKEEPER who bludgeoned his postmistress wife to death as she slept has been jailed for life, after a jury found him guilty of murder today.

Robin Garbutt, 45, formerly of York and Huby, attacked Diana with a metal bar in the living quarters of their village shop and post office on March 23 last year.

He then lied to police, claiming armed robbers had attacked his wife then stolen money from the safe.

A jury today convicted Garbutt of murder and he has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years.

The court heard Garbutt, 45, knew his wife Diana, who grew up in Selby and Eggborough, had been unfaithful and feared his theft of thousands of pounds from the post office they ran in Melsonby was about to be discovered.

He claimed a man with a gun had told him: "Don't do anything stupid - we've got your wife", but the jury rejected his story.

The jury of eight men and four women convicted Garbutt on a ten-two majority, after almost 13 hours of deliberations.

Garbutt's sister collapsed in tears as the verdict was announced. Diana Garbutt's mother Agnes Gaylor also wept.

After killing his wife, Garbutt opened the shop as normal and served around 60 customers, then closed it again.

He dialled 999 and claimed his wife had been attacked, crying hysterically on the phone.

When a paramedic told him rigor mortis had set in, he challenged it, saying "she's still warm".

He told police a raider had robbed him and when he ran upstairs his wife was motionless, face down on the bed.

Officers discovered the secrets of his seemingly happy marriage. They found the couple had £30,000 in credit card debts and despite the long hours he worked were making little profit in the business.

The couple were due to go on holiday to the United States, where his wife's father was from, and Garbutt is thought to have feared that a relief postmaster would discover missing funds when she came to look after the business.

Police also found his wife, 40, had become involved with three men, having a drunken "intimate" encounter with one man on a sofa at a York house, flirting on Facebook with another and kissing a third man, her husband's cousin.

Mrs Garbutt, who the killer claimed had a higher sex drive than him, was also looking online for men aged 35-50 to date.

The couple had discussed a break-up and the prosecution said Garbutt knew he faced a future with no assets if that happened, as everything they had was in his wife's name.

Crucial evidence came from the fish and chips the couple ate the night before she died.

A digestion expert told the jury Mrs Garbutt stopped processing the meal about six to eight hours after she finished eating it - giving a likely time of death in the early hours rather than at about 8.30am, which Garbutt had claimed.