A NORTH Yorkshire shopkeeper found guilty of bludgeoning his postmistress wife to death lost a Court of Appeal challenge against his murder conviction.

Robin Garbutt, 46, formerly of Huby, was jailed for life in April last year and ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars before he can apply for parole.

The couple lived together in York before moving to Melsonby near Darlington.

A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard that he battered his 40-year-old wife Diana, who grew up in Eggborough and Selby, to death in their bedroom before opening their post office and shop in the village as normal.

His case was that a raider with a gun told him "don't do anything stupid, we've got your wife" before robbing him as he worked, and that moments later he discovered his wife's body in bed in their living quarters.

Three judges in London said that his conviction was safe.

He had argued that it should be overturned on the grounds that that newly disclosed Post Office accounting records going back to 2004 supported the credibility of his evidence and undermined part of the prosecution case, but the judges disagreed.

Lord Justice Hughes said the accuracy of the newly discovered Post Office records was not disputed.

The prosecution's case was that "there could never have been an intruder" - there was no robbery and it followed that Garbutt had killed his wife.

The fresh material relied on in the appeal related to Post Office records going back to 2004.

It was submitted on Garbutt's behalf that the pattern shown by the records "cannot be relied upon as demonstrating thefts of Post Office cash".

Had the jury had the full records "it would have supported the defendant in something that he said, namely that he had always held large sums in the safe, and the jury would have been likely to take a different view of his credibility generally".

Lord Justice Hughes said: "The premise on which this appeal has so well been argued is that the jury may have proceeded from theft to murder. "We have asked ourselves anxiously whether that might be so. We are clear that it cannot be."

The judge concluded: "We are quite satisfied that this conviction is not unsafe.”