Killer wife Margaret Uttley's $20m property jackpot


Margaret Uttley

A BLACK widow who killed her husband stands to hit a multi-million-dollar property jackpot after being released from jail.

Margaret Erica Uttley, 55, was released from Tarrengower women’s prison after serving two years’ jail for manslaughter of her husband Stephen.

Uttley, who shot and killed her husband in October 2000, faces a potential windfall of more than $20 million because of the State Government’s re-zoning of land in Melbourne’s west.

The 92ha property in Tarneit has been left to her four children in trust, who relatives say will share the spoils with their mother who holds a caveat over the farm.

Mr Uttley’s family is convinced the children will hand money over to their mother.

“The kids will give it to her,” his sister Pauline said.

“I’ve got no doubt she’ll get her hands on the money. We’re not doing anything about it. The land goes to the children. If she gets her hands on it, it’s up to them.”

The property – where she shot, buried, exhumed and then burned Stephen Uttley on a rubbish heap – was listed by the Urban Growth Authority in August this year.

Its listing of the property opens it up for developers to buy and subdivide as part of Melbourne’s next major residential belt.

After Uttley shot her husband, who she claimed was an alcoholic, she told family and friends he had gone to the Nothern Territory with an old school friend and had not returned.

She maintained the lie for seven years.

But in July 2006, police launched Operation Mayfly, and a year later charged her with murder.

Uttley, who denied killing her husband to police on August 19, 2007, confessed to shooting him in their bedroom during a second interview eight days later.

Her confession came a year after she took a caveat over the property. Mr Uttley’s two sisters, Pauline and Judith, sought legal advice over the land but have since given up. In 1999, the year before Mr Uttley was shot by his wife, the property was transferred from family company Uttley Nominees into his name.

From there it was transferred into the trust.

The move came as the Uttleys faced financial ruin.

Uttley left her husband in March 2000 before returning to the farm and life with her beer-swilling lover within a fortnight.

A court heard Uttley allegedly told a friend about this time: “If I could shoot him and get away with it, I would.”

She pleaded guilty to manslaughter after being accused of murder and ordered to stand trial on that charge.

During the murder trial, in which Uttley pleaded not guilty, the prosecution and defence struck a manslaughter deal. Mario Stocco, Mr Uttley’s best friend, was the last person to see him alive outside his family at a barbecue he hosted in Werribee on Sunday October 8, 2000.

He was reported missing two years after the gathering.

“She never saw eye to eye with me,” he said.

“I pointed the finger at her from the start.”

The Herald Sun understands the family have been trying to push a coroner’s inquest through to gain a death certificate for their father – allowing them to claim the land.

Because DNA could not be extracted from Mr Uttley’s remains, he was only issued a death certificate this month after an inquest.

A source also said John Pante, a Tarneit vegetable grower, proposed to Uttley while she was in prison, but they could not marry because she had not divorced her officially missing husband.

The minimum two-year sentence handed down over Mr Uttley’s killing was too lenient, a family member said. “We weren’t happy about it, but what can you do?” she said.

“The prosecution gave up … I’ve moved on.

“They (the children) sided with their mother.”

Another family member was bemused over the Uttleys’ potential windfall.

“Has she ever hit the jackpot,” he said.

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