A man accused of murdering his wife joined a group described as ‘Tinder for widows’ days after her death, a court heard.
Donald McPherson, 47, is accused of killing wife Paula Leeson while the couple were on holiday in a ‘remote’ part of Denmark.
Ms Leeson, 47, drowned in a swimming pool at the cottage where they were staying.
Jurors also heard that a Danish paramedic described Mr McPherson’s efforts to resuscitate his wife as ‘very bad’, with prosecutors questioning whether he was ‘really trying’, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Prosecutors say that Mr McPherson ‘stood to gain a vast fortune’ from his wife’s death, after taking out joint life insurance policies worth about £3 million.
“She (Ms Leeson) had a price on her head, and that price could only be paid out if she were dead,” prosecutor David McLachlan QC said.
As prosecutors continued to open their case at the Manchester Crown Court trial, jurors heard that the married couple, who lived in Sale, arrived in Norre Nebel in the west of Denmark in June 2017.
Ms Leeson died on the third day of their trip, the day they were supposed to fly back to Manchester.
Jurors were told that on the day of her death, she had spoken to her mother who said Ms Leeson seemed ‘subdued as if something was wrong’.
At 1.46pm, on June 6, 2017, Mr McPherson called the emergency services.
A paramedic arrived about ten minutes later and saw Mr McPherson giving his wife CPR as she lay on the edge of the pool, the court was told.
Jurors heard that the paramedic said Mr McPherson ‘had not pressed hard enough’, and that he had ‘apologised because he had an injured shoulder’.
“He thought that Donald McPherson’s resuscitation attempts to supposedly save his wife’s life were very bad, as there was still so much water inside her lungs,” Mr McLachlan said.
The QC asked jurors to question whether ‘in fact that man there (Mr McPherson) was really trying’.
Ms Leeson was declared dead at 2.26pm.
The police were called, and Mr McPherson told them that he had not seen his wife for 20 minutes before finding her in the pool.
He told them he had jumped into the pool to try and pull her out, but couldn’t initially because of his shoulder.
Mr McPherson had been able to get her out, and said his wife had been having stomach pains for a few days and toothache, the prosecution said in their opening statement.
Jurors heard that the morning after, Mr McPherson made online transactions moving money from their joint bank account to his personal accounts.
Prosecutors allege he did this to ‘reduce his credit card debts’.
A post-mortem examination conducted in Denmark found that Ms Leeson had suffered injuries including abrasions and bruises to her forehead, and some injuries to her arms and legs.
Jurors heard that while Mr McPherson was still in Denmark on June 14, he completed an online application to join a support group called Widowed and Young.
“His wife had been dead eight days, her body had still yet to be repatriated and laid to rest, and he was joining Widowed and Young (WAY),” Mr McLachlan said.
Prosecutors claimed Mr McPherson ‘never really showed much emotion after his wife’s death’.
He added: “Far from being overwhelmed from grief, Donald McPherson was partying away with the WAY group.”
Mr McLachlan said Mr McPherson later described the WAY group to his personal trainer as ‘being like Tinder for widows’.
Ms Leeson’s death was found to be ‘assumed accidental’ by the Danish authorities.
“The prosecution case is that her death was far from accidental,” Mr McLachlan said.
In April 2018, Greater Manchester Police arrested Mr McPherson, and he denied killing his wife.
Officers asked him about how he had found his wife in the pool.
Mr McPherson said: “I woke up, she wasn’t next to me and I looked around the house.
“I called out and I ended up going to the back toilet and I saw the door, I froze, I was in shock and horror.
“I was just in fear and panic, complete panic, just complete panic, and I can’t remember fully.
“I remember getting into the pool to try and get her out and there was, yeah it was horrendous.
“It was the worst nightmare. It was completely horrible to see and I can’t describe it, it was just fear and shock and panicking.”
The trial is expected to last six weeks.