Son and daughter of Northants murder victim urge families to act if 'they know something isn't right'

Two men were jailed for life today at a sentencing hearing

By Kate Cronin
Monday, 21st December 2020, 3:39 pm

Toni Brown and Gary Price, the children of Earls Barton murder victim Marion Price, have spoken of their relief that their mum's killers have been given the 'sentence they deserve'.

Michael Reader, 70, will be over 100-years-old before he is eligible for parole after receiving a minimum 31-year sentence at Northampton Crown Court today. Stephen Welch, 61, described by Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking as his 'trusted lieutenant', will serve 27 years before being considered for release.

The court heard how the pair had planned the murder for a year, tracking Marion's every movements from her home in Packwood Crescent.

Gary Price and Toni Brown. Copyright: JPI Media

Speaking outside court, Gary Price said: "Nobody can bring my mum back but I reel relieved they have got the sentence they deserve.

Toni said: "I can forget they exist now."

Marion's family had all seen warning signs when she was married to Reader, but had not realised how serious the situation was.

Urging people in similar situations to seek immediate help, Toni said: "We could see what was happening with my mum. She definitely changed and we knew something wasn't right but we all had different worries,

DCI Joe Banfield and his team, with members of Marion Price's family outside Northampton Crown Court today

Toni's husband Scott Brown said: "We all had different pieces of the jigsaw puzzle but we didn't put them together.

Toni said: "If you have suspicions your family member is going through something like this then please speak to the person involved, even if they may not want to speak about it, give them the chance.

"Speak to other people around them and try to piece together what's going on.

"Nobody ever thinks this kind of thing is going to happen to them, you don't believe anybody could be that evil to plan something like this.

"If you are in a relationship that is abusive then get out. Mum wouldn't want people to be put off leaving because of what happened to her.

"She didn't feel the need to seek help from the authorities because she was probably trying to downplay it to protect me and Gary but I'd urge others to take the help. If you're offered a safe house then it's because the police think you need it."

Gary said: "We hope that even if one person reads this, it might help them to leave or to ask for help."

Earlier on, in a serious of moving victim impact statements to the court, Scott Brown said he believed Marion had got her affairs together in the months leading up to her death because she knew what Reader was capable of. He said the family had been through a 'tsunami of emotions' but that they had hope that they would get through it together.

The court also heard of the devastating impact on Marion's mother, Ellen, who is 92 and suffers from dementia and sight loss. Marion had been her main carer.

Marion's sister Helen Eaton said that she had had to move Ellen away from the Earls Barton home she had lived in for 40 years because of the impact of the care she now needs, adding: "I've lost not only my much-loved sister but my best friend."

Another of Marion's seven siblings, Clare Kightley who was on the scene in Earls Barton soon after Marion's body was discovered, said: "Marion was taken from us, not by accident, but in the most cruel and heinous way imaginable."

And Gary Price said in his statement that his mum had been killed in a 'calculated and planned execution,' adding: "She was the most beautiful human being you could ever wish to meet."

Following the hearing, chief investigating officer DCI Joe Banfield said that his team was satisfied with the sentence but that it was 'bittersweet'.

"We've got a satisfactory result in that two people are going to go to prison and may well die there and that reflects the seriousness of the offences they've committed but for the family this is something that will go on and on."