An abusive husband who murdered his wife after she left him over his coercive behaviour has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years.
John Lizanec, 49, slit mum-of-three Michelle’s throat with a knife and then hid the 44-year-old’s body in an airing cupboard at his home in Perthshire.
He then fled to his mother’s house in Dundee, where he sparked a siege after arming himself with another knife.
The former soldier had denied murder and instead claimed Ms Lizanec had taken her own life.
At the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, judge Lord Fairley stated: “The evidence showed you to be an abusive bully and like all bullies you are a coward.”
The fatal attack occurred at Lizanec’s home in Inchture on 13 February 2021.
Lizanec was jailed for life and ordered to spend at least 24 years behind bars.
Lord Fairley warned him: “It is perfectly possible you will never be released.”
In a letter to the victim’s father while remanded in custody, Lizanec wrote that his wife was “so depressed and hurting” and claimed that she was suffering through the menopause at the time of her death.
However, William Dewar told jurors his daughter was “elated” when she signed papers for a new house to escape from Lizanec and he’d never seen her “so happy”.
The court heard that on the day of the murder, Ms Lizanec had planned to give Lizanec a lift before going on to her new home.
The couple’s own children also told the court of the “toxic” atmosphere in the family home.
Daughter Ebony, 27, said her father was “extremely abusive mentally and emotionally” towards her mother.
She claimed: “He would isolate her so she did not have any friends. She did not have anyone to speak to.
“The only time she would leave the house was to walk the dogs.”
Ms Lizanec, who had contacted Women’s Aid for support, was not allowed to dress in the way that she wanted.
Lizanec monitored messages on her phone and iPad, and threatened to harm her two dogs, her family and any future new partner.
The court heard that Lizanec had told one of his children that he had “something big planned” for their mother on Valentine’s Day, although he did not reveal details.
Lizanec claimed in evidence that he did not slit his wife’s throat, saying: “I loved her. I didn’t hate her.”
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Lizanec was found guilty of murder, abusive behaviour, attempting to defeat the ends of justice, and behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.
Lord Fairley said he had watched Lizanec throughout the trial and his clear impression was that the only person for whom he expressed any sorrow or remorse was himself.
Speaking outside court, Lizanec’s daughter Ebony said: “I’m glad we finally got justice and can show what kind of person he actually is.”
The former fashion student also said the sentence would help the family move on.
She added: “I think it will take time but at least it’s done – we’ve waited [almost] three years for this.
“Right now, it’s life-changing for us to get him convicted on all five charges. It’s what we wanted.
“We can actually now progress with our lives and get on with it and enjoy it again – it’s 100% relief. We could not be happier.”
Police Scotland praised the victim’s family for showing “great courage and dignity” during the trial.
Detective Inspector Gary Lamb said: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for Michelle’s family and friends who have been deeply affected by her tragic and needless death.
“Our thoughts remain very much with Michelle’s loved ones as they continue to come to terms with their loss. I hope this conviction will help to bring them some degree of comfort.”
Scottish Women’s Aid: Support is available 24 hours, seven days a week. Call 0800 027 1234.
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