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John Lizanec found guilty of murdering wife at Perthshire home

Jurors convicted the 49-year-old father-of-three after nearly two weeks of harrowing, emotional and overwhelming evidence against him.

John Lizanec has been found guilty of murdering his wife Michelle.
John Lizanec has been found guilty of murdering his wife Michelle.

Cold-hearted killer John Lizanec has been found guilty of murdering his wife and hiding her body in an airing cupboard at his home in Perthshire.

The abusive husband slashed the throat of the woman he described as his “childhood sweetheart” and “the love of my life.”

The 49-year-old was convicted of murder, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and a cruel campaign of domestic abuse following nine days of harrowing, emotional but also overwhelming evidence against him at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He has been jailed for life and ordered to spent at least 24 years behind bars.

Judge Lord Fairley, who blasted Lizanec for attempting to portray himself as a victim, told him: “It is even possible you will never be released.”

Mrs Lizanec’s three children told The Courier they hope to get closure following the verdict.

Lizanec bullied and berated his wife Michelle for years, controlling what she wore, where she went and who she was with.

He gaslighted her, claiming that he was the one who was a victim of domestic abuse.

John Lizanec led from prison van
John Lizanec is led into Edinburgh High Court on the final day of his trial.

She managed to escape the marital home in Inchture at the end of January 2021 and moved in with her son Jon and youngest daughter Ebony to a new house in Scone.

Mrs Lizanec, 44, was the “happiest she had been for a long time,” her family said.

But just two weeks later, on February 13, Lizanec lured his wife back to his empty home at Orchard Way.

He cut her neck “from ear to ear” in the downstairs toilet, before stuffing her body into the bottom of a utility cupboard.

Orchard Way, Inchture
The couple lived at Orchard Way, Inchture, which was the site of intense police activity.

Hours before the killing, Lizanec sent a series of angry text messages to his mum.

He told her he “did not want hurt to turn to revenge,” but added: “I want blood for this s***.”

Chillingly, the court had earlier heard how Lizanec messaged Jon days earlier and told him he had “something big” planned for his mother’s Valentine’s Day.

After the murder, Lizanec stripped off and tended to a small cut on his arm, before changing into a different outfit including a new set of trainers, straight out of the box.

He drove his wife’s car to Asda at Milton of Craigie to buy cigarettes and a new belt, before going to his mother’s house at Balunie Street in Dundee.

Judge’s comments

The jury took just under two hours to unanimously find Lizanec guilty of all five charges, including murder and domestic abuse.

Lord Fairley told him: “You have been found guilty by the jury of murdering your wife by cutting her throat at your home address.

“Throughout this trial you sought to portray yourself as a loving and considerate husband and father.

“But the evidence presented by the Crown presents a different picture of a jealous, abusive and controlling man with very little thought for anyone but himself.”

He added: “Your attempts to suggest your wife took her own life were preposterous.

“There was overwhelming evidence against you as you constructed a catalogue of increasingly ludicrous lies.”

The judge said: “This false narrative must only have increased the unimaginable pain of Mrs Lizanec’s children.

“They are a tribute to her and have conducted themselves with honesty and dignity in the face of your repeated falsehoods.”

He told Lizanec: “You gave even sought to portray yourself as the victim.

“The evidence shows you are an abusive bully and like all bullies you are a coward.”

‘Lifechanging’ verdict for family

Speaking outside court, daughter Sophie, 28, said: “I’m glad we have finally got justice for our mum.

”And now people can see the sort of man he really is.”

Younger daughter Ebony said the family now wanted to move on with their lives.

“I think it will take time but at least it’s done,” she said.

“We’ve waited three years for this.

Right now, it’s lifechanging for us to get him convicted on all five charges – it’s what we wanted.

“We can actually now progress with our lives and get on with it and enjoy it again – it’s 100 per cent relief. We could not be happier.”

Body found in cupboard

The trial heard how, following frantic calls from the children after their mother failed to respond to their messages, police went to investigate the house at Inchture – her last known location on Snapchat Maps.

Officers forced their way inside and found Mrs Lizanec’s body hidden inside the bathroom cupboard, next to a vacuum cleaner and box of cleaning supplies.

Armed officers then descended on Lizanec’s mother’s home.

After a 12-hour siege, during which he barricaded the front door with a sofa and held a knife to his own throat, Lizanec gave himself up.

Armed police outside John Lizanec’s mother’s home in Balunie Street, Dundee, on February 15 2021.

But he never told police or his family what happened.

Towards the end of his trial, he stepped into the witness box and tried to persuade jurors his wife had cut her own throat while she stood facing inside the airing cupboard.

There were crocodile tears when he told how he tried to save her from taking her life, then held her body as she died in his arms.

But he confused his testimony, claiming he ran in and first saw blood on the floor before seeing her raising “something silver” towards her throat.

The jury had already heard Mrs Lizanec had died of a single “uniformly deep” 16cm neck wound, severing her windpipe – meaning there would have been no blood until her throat was cut.

Balunie Street police activity
Forensics officers at  Balunie Street, Dundee after Lizanec’s arrest. Image: DC Thomson.

Lizanec later wrote to his father-in-law Michael Dewar from prison, asking him to send him cash and clothes, while begging him to let him attend his daughter’s funeral.

Mr Dewar said Lizanec’s claims his daughter was “depressed” and suffering from “heavy menopause” were “fantasy”.

Closing speeches

In her closing speech, advocate depute Shanti Macguire invited jurors to convict Lizanec of a “horrific, brutal and deadly assault with a knife.”

“His position was that there were arguments in the house but he wasn’t abusive,” she said.

“He doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for his behaviour.

“He said he didn’t control her movements or tell her what to wear.

“He is asking you to believe that he hasn’t done anything wrong apart from a few arguments.

“It always seems to be someone else’s fault.”

Michelle Lizanec
Michelle Lizanec was found dead at her former home at Orchard Way, Inchture.

The advocate depute asked jurors: “What do you make of his evidence that Michelle has gone to the bathroom cupboard, taken a knife and cut her own throat and that Mr Lizanec is not responsible?

“Do you think this is likely in any way?

“I would ask you to reject his explanation of how she came about her injury.

“Why would he lie her down in a bathroom cupboard?

“Why leave her next to a hoover and a crate of cleaning products?

“If, as he says, this awful tragedy has unfolded before his eyes and he then needs his mum, why does he not unburden himself to his mother?

“Is it because he’s not telling the truth?”

Reasonable doubt?

Solicitor advocate Iain Paterson, representing Lizanec, told the jury they had to decide if Michelle died by murder or suicide.

“You have seen some horrifying images in this trial,” he said in his closing speech.

“But you have to put your emotions to one side and make a decision based on the evidence.”

He added: “What you have heard over the last nine days is the destruction of a family.“

Mr Paterson said: “Mr Lizanec gave his testimony and his explanation for what happened.

“There were two people in that house but there’s only one person who can speak to what happened.”

The trial got underway at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He asked the jury to consider forensic evidence about blood spatter inside the cupboard backed his client’s version of events.

“You might think that Mr Lizanec’s explanation of what happened sits comfortably with the forensic science.

“That is maybe something that can cause you to pause or hesitate.

“And that pause or hesitation would be a reasonable doubt.”

Guilty verdict

Lizanec was found guilty of assaulting and murdering his estranged wife by seizing her head and striking her on the neck with a knife, having “previously evinced malice and ill-will towards her.”

He was further convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing her body in a cupboard, cleaning himself of blood and changing his clothing.

He also got rid of his wife’s mobile phone – the court heard it was last detected at the Asda in Milton of Craigie – and fleeing the scene to barricade himself inside his mother’s house.

John Lizanec in cuffs
John Lizanec led into Perth Sheriff Court to begin legal proceedings the day after his arrest.

Lizanec, described on court papers as a prisoner at Perth, was also found guilty of engaging in an abusive course of behaviour towards his wife at their homes in Chaise Road, Bridge of Earn, and Orchard Way, Inchture, between April 1 2019 and February 13 2021.

He was also guilty of threatening or abusive behaviour between October 6 2010 and March 31 2019.

And he was convicted of further threatening behaviour at his mum’s house on September 14 2021.

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