Throughout his trial, after he had been charged with murder, it quickly became clear that a grieving husband, he was not.
When 47-year-old Paula Leeson took a trip with her husband, Donald McPherson to the small Danish town of Norre Nebel in 2017, she didn't expect that the holiday would end in her death.
According to the BBC, the woman drowned in a swimming pool that was only four feet deep. It was part of the cottage that the couple had been staying at during their holiday. But her death isn't seen as an accident. Though Donald told police that they had been in bed and he had found her face down in the pool before pulling her out, the authorities were sceptical. Soon, he was charged with murder and accused of a "sinister pre-planned killing" of Paula, whose family owns a booming construction business in Sale, Greater Manchester in order to collect the £3.5 million (approx. $4 million) life insurance.
During his trial, Joseph Ennis-Cole, a pilot, had spoken about how he and Donald, a property manager, had met at flying school while training him to become a pilot. Joseph told the jury, "Don said she had died in her sleep. It changed to she had an issue with her teeth and was allergic to medication. Then later, closer to the inquest, it became clear she actually drowned. Don did not actually tell me that."
He said that Donald later explained that he hadn't mentioned the drowning to avoid "spooking" his friend. He told the jury that the seemingly bereaved husband was "drinking enormous amounts" post his wife's death under suspicious circumstances, as per Manchester Evening News.
However, that wasn't the only red flag that came up. The 48-year-old also invited Joseph to join a dating group called Widowed and Young which he likened to "like Tinder for widows." It was at that group that Donald, just four months after his wife's death, met another woman. The pilot friend, however, declined the invitation. "These groups were for widowed people. Don had told me that I should come and just pretend that I was widowed too. I didn't go because the idea just didn't feel right."
To top it off, the court heard that the husband kept his flying lessons, "a private hobby," a secret from his wife. "It was also a bit of a laugh at the flying school. He would get a call and play his drill and say, 'I'm just in the loft Paula, I will ring you back,'" said Joseph. "He would speak to Paula but not about the flying itself," he added, according to Manchester Evening News. "She would ring to ask him where he was." Additionally, Donald would use an alias by the name of Rob Jones, both in person and online.
It was discovered during the trial that Paula worked for W.Leeson and Son, which was a family-owned business run by her father, William. Joseph claimed that Donald "resented" his father-in-law being "in charge." He also said that Donald used to be "annoyed" when his wife would "side with" her dad every time he shared an idea or opinion.
The prosecution revealed that the property manager had taken out seven life insurance polices on his wife and allegedly forged her will. One of Paula's best friends, Lynn Dale, played witness in the court and shared that she had signed two "Trust" documents. The document essentially handed power over around £800,000 of the life insurance from Paula's son to Donald, should she pass away. Lynn said, "I do not recognise the document at all. I can categorically state this is not my signature and not my handwriting, I have no knowledge of ever having been asked to complete this," according to Mirror UK.
As of now, the trial is ongoing.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Justin Paget (Representative Image)