A jealous husband accused of burning his estranged wife to death insists a spy camera he set up in her bedroom was there to ‘salvage their marriage’.
Prosecutors say Damien Simmons, 45, poured petrol over 36-year-old Denise Keane-Simmons and set her alight at her home in Harlesden, north London in April last year.
She suffered horrific burns and later died in hospital.
Simmons denies murder but has admitted manslaughter, insisting he ‘set myself on fire because I just wanted to die’ and wanted Denise to witness it.
Forensic examination of Simmons’ phone showed he had posted a naked picture of Denise, and also kept images from a camera installed in a lightbulb in her bedroom, jurors were told.
Asked why he had obtained the camera, he told the Old Bailey: ‘To see who she was talking to, you know?
‘So that I could try to salvage my marriage because I knew a lot of people are talking to her.’
Asked why he did not just talk to her directly, he replied: ‘I tried but every time she was always busy.’
Simmons also allegedly set up a voice recorder to tape conversations between Denise and her friend.
The former oil industry worker, originally from Trinidad, said he met his future wife through Facebook after his first wife died of sepsis in 2014, and moved to London after they married five years later.
Simmons told the court their relationship started well ‘to an extent’, but ‘one or two arguments’ here and there turned to intense jealousy after he saw her ‘gyrating’ and ‘lewd dancing’ at parties.
Judy Khan QC, defending, asked him: ‘You expected Denise to change when she married you?
Simmons said: ‘Yes I accept that – not having people winding on her, not going to all the parties, being more home as a family and doing things as a family.’
As the relationship went downhill, he said he became ‘controlling’ over money issues and his wife’s ability to speak to men and go out.
He began drinking and became ‘distraught things were going wrong with my marriage’, eventually leaving the family home and moving in with his grandmother.
Simmons also admitted to harassing Denise in relation to an incident in February last year when police were called to her home, but insisted he was only trying to ‘work things out’.
He went on to admit to taking some of her jewellery so she would talk to him, as well as googling CPS guidance on legal defences for murder and ‘best way to use a knife and kill someone’ – but insisted he had no such intentions.
The 45-year-old also admitted a charge of disclosing private and sexual photographs with intent to cause distress and denies additional charges of voyeurism and arson with intent to endanger life. The trial continues.