Gardener charged over missing woman

A gardener has been charged with murder after a British woman vanished from her home in south west France, according to reports.

Patricia Wilson, 58, moved to the village of Vabre Tizac - in the Aveyron region - with her husband five years ago. The couple separated last year before the former advertising executive apparently struck up an intimate relationship with her gardener.

Police were called to Mrs Wilson's home last Tuesday by neighbours who had become concerned about her welfare. They said the Briton's car had not moved for some time and her shutters were open despite a local heatwave.

It was reported that police entered her stone cottage where they found blood on the floor and walls.

Her body is yet been found and police divers were searching lakes in the area after launching a murder investigation.

It is said that Mrs Wilson, from Welwyn Garden City, sold her property portfolio in Hertfordshire and moved to France with her husband Donald.

But neighbours in the village said the couple had separated over a year ago, before Mrs Wilson started a new relationship with her gardener, who is yet to be named.

He was arrested on Friday after blood samples taken from her house and his car matched Mrs Wilson's DNA profile. Police in Montpellier charged him with murder on Sunday, something he denies, according to reports.

Mrs Wilson's sister-in-law Fen Bailey told The Daily Mail the whole family were in shock. Mrs Bailey, 70, from Welwyn Garden City, said: "We wish the police could tell us more. They still haven't found her. They've been dredging lakes and searching for her."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of reports of a missing British national in France and are in contact with the investigating authorities."