A FORMER Coldstream woman has been convicted of helping a man cover up the murder of his wife.
Appearing at Edinburgh High Court, Rita Heyster was also charged helping Harry Jarvis to murder his wife Carol in their Bathgate home in 2009 but Judge Lord Brailsford, presiding, ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict her.
However, on on Wednesday she was found guilty of helping Jarvis hide his wife’s body and sent into custody to await sentence.
Heyster arrived in Coldstream in the 1950s, after being adopted by Jus-Rol founder Tommy Forsyth and his wife. Growing up in the town she lived with the family near the town’s police station and went to school at Coldstream Primary.
Following her adopted father’s death she inherited his fortune but was thought to have left the town in her mid-teens.
Now 57, she was rumoured to be having an affair with Jarvis before his wife’s death but this is something the convicted murderer denied in court and Heyster lodged a special defence blaming her rumoured lover for any wrong doing.
This corresponds with Jarvis’ own version of events. He was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year but when called as a defence witness by Heyster’s lawyers said he had never told her that his wife was dead or that he had hidden her body in the cellar.
He told the trial that when his wife died on September 12, 2009 he was alone in the house in Balbardie Crescent, Bathgate.
He claimed he sent Heyster, who is rumoured to have lived in the Jarvis’s garden shed for a period of time, out on a false errand to a nearby shop while he hid his wife’s body and then made up an elaborate story about her having to leave the family home for respite care.
He said Carol Jarvis died after his attempt to administer drugs to stop the 49 year old fitting failed but this differed from the account of events he gave to police when he was first arrested which suggested she’d lost her life after “a sex game had gone wrong.”
The court heard how Harry Jarvis and Rita Heyster first struck up contact in 2008 over the internet and later, he stayed at her Peebles home because he was working in the area as an electronics engineer and moonlighting as a delivery man for an Indian take-away.
The following year Ms Heyster moved to the Bathgate area, living in bed and breakfast accommodation and, for about a month before his wife’s death, staying the occasional night in the garden shed.
Jarvis said Heyster was going to be his wife’s carer so that he could go back to work. But they did not want their four grown-up children to know about this until plans were finalised.
Jarvis said that was why Heyster kept out of sight in the shed, or on occasion, in the cellar where Mrs Jarvis’s body was found on September 16,2009.
However, on Tuesday, Gary Allan QC, branded the 61 year old a “pathological liar” who was lying to get Heyster off the hook.
And speaking after the trial Det Insp Phil Gachagan, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: “Harry Jarvis is a cold and calculating killer, who preyed on his wife’s loyalty and vulnerability.
“It is clear he thought very little of killing his wife of 27 years.
“The attempts made by Harry and Rita to conceal what they had done further demonstrated their complete lack of remorse for their wicked actions.”