Husband who murdered Castleford school teacher Abi Fisher jailed

Matthew Fisher and Abi Fisher
Matthew Fisher said Abi Fisher had told him she was leaving him before the killing. Credit: Facebook.

A care company worker who murdered his wife and then left their baby daughter alone while he dumped the body has been jailed for life.

Matthew Fisher, 30, strangled primary school teacher Abi Fisher, 29, at their home in Walton Park Street, Castleford, in West Yorkshire, in July.

Leeds Crown Court heard he then left their six-month-old daughter, Sydney, who had Covid-19 at the time, bundled his wife's body into his car and went on a long drive via Lancashire and Derbyshire to South Yorkshire, where he dumped her body.

In the wake of her killing he called police, on 9 July, to say that his wife had vanished without trace. He posted a message on Facebook saying: "Has anyone seen Abi? If you have, can you please let me know or get her to give me a ring."

Abi Fisher had christened her daughter, Sydney, days before she was murdered.

A huge search involving hundreds of friends, family, police, teachers and the local community followed.

Police later uncovered evidence of Fisher's lies. They tracked the journey his car had made using ANPR cameras and his mobile phone signal. Fisher had initially claimed he was asleep at home at the time his car was on the move.

Abi Fisher's body was found in undergrowth off Southmoor Road, near Brierley, South Yorkshire. Her husband's fingerprints were found on gaffer tape nearby.

Abi Fisher's body was found in undergrowth in Brierley on 10 July

As well as being strangled, she had injuries to her face, head and body suggesting she had been beaten.

Evidence from Ms Fisher's devices found that she had made recent internet searches, asking, "why does my husband hate me?" and "is marriage counselling available on the NHS?".

Initially Fisher said he had no recollection of what had happened.

Matthew Fisher appealed for help on social media after murdering his wife.

He later admitted that the couple had argued on the night of her death, claiming she had hit her head on a picture frame. He said she "lost it" and he then smothered her, but could not recall for how long.

The court heard that Fisher, who worked for the company Care Link, said tensions had developed in the couple's marriage since the birth of their daughter, who was christened just days before Ms Fisher's murder. He said the argument happened after his wife had threatened to leave him.

Fisher was addressed directly by Abi Fisher's mother, Andrea Richardson, in court. Before reading out a victim statement, she said to him: "Please look at me and show me some respect."

Abi Fisher. Credit: Family handout

Recalling the day she discovered her daughter was dead, she said: "I couldn't stop screaming.

"I have never felt so helpless and terrified in my life. I was shaking inside, I felt physically sick, I felt like this wasn't happening to us. We are just normal people."

She added: "I prayed it was someone else's child and not mine. How awful of me was that? That, Matthew, is what you have done to me."

Referring to Abi Fisher as "my baby daughter", she said: "She was so special. She would give anything a go, she loved life. She loved you, Matthew."

Mrs Richardson, 60, and her husband Mick, 63, are now looking after their granddaughter.

"We are starting again with a baby," she said.

Fisher pleaded guilty to murder at a previous hearing.

Sentencing him to life, with a minimum term of 15 years, Judge Tom Bayliss KC told Fisher: "You have left your little daughter without any parent to care for her. By your actions you have taken one life and left the lives of so many others in tatters."

Matthew Fisher Credit: West Yorkshire Police

Speaking after the sentecing, Det Insp Amanda Wimbles, of the West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: "Abi was someone who was loved by many, and this was a horrendous crime that understandably shocked and devastated the local community. Matthew Fisher’s actions that day have ensured that their young daughter will now grow up without either parent. 

"I hope that the swift justice and custodial sentence that Matthew Fisher has been given provides some comfort to Abi’s family and friends as they continue to come to terms with their loss."

  • Det Insp Wimbles speaks on behalf of the family.

Ms Fisher was due to return to teaching at All Saints C of E Academy, near Pontefract, in September. In a previous statement head teacher Matthew Jones said: "She will be remembered as an enthusiastic, kind and caring teacher and colleague, who gave her all each day.

"In particular, her passion for science inspired countless children over the years - she made a real difference to so many lives."

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