AS a makeup artist she was expert at creating an appearance to hide a reality – but Diane Chenery-Wickens's career had a sad parallel in her life.

Outwardly they had been happily married for 11 years. She an award winning makeup artist, he a respected churchman.

But in reality David Chenery-Wickens was a 'sexual predator' who lied to many people for many years and when his wife came close to the truth, he murdered her - shattering many peoples’ illusions.

The body of Diane, 48, was found on a country lane four months after a large scale murder enquiry had been launched.

Police were within a mile of her remains but it was a dog walker who noticed the 'unpleasant smell' under a holly bush in Worth Lane, Little Horsted – one of the emergency evacuation routes for the Lavender Line where her husband worked.

It was the long awaited discovery police needed to arrest the husband they had suspected from the start.

The killing was defined by several odd details including the placing of Diane's favourite cowboy boots next to her body and the removal of her wedding and eternity ring.

In a heartbreaking turn of events for her mother Joan and father John, her sister Caroline Bosley and brother Russell Wickens – her remains, found just yards from the busy A26, had been left unburied and there was no forensic evidence to say how she died.

It took police ten months to piece together enough evidence to bring Chenery-Wickens to trial.

Diane met Chenery-Wickens in 1996 when he worked as a delivery driver dropping off props and stage sets at the BBC.

He befriended actresses and production staff by doing tarot readings in the back of his lorry.

Diane approached him one day asking for him to confirm a prediction she had about her personal life.

Friends who knew Diane said she had got into the relationship when she was feeling vulnerable and insecure after a previous relationship failed.

Shipping broker Karel Van Bommell said: "David had very little going for him when he met Diane, I remember when he moved in to her flat in Battersea – he had all his possessions in a single plastic bag.

"She was a great success, a high achiever, and from that day on he sought to control her – he was a control freak."

According to friends Diane, who was 37 at the time, was tired of being alone and wanted the successful marriage so many of her friends and family had.

Mr Van Bommell said: "Diane was surrounded by people who were happily married – her mother and father, Joan and John, her sister Caroline and brother Russell, as well as all her friends at work.

"We knew David wasn't right for her but when we asked her why she said yes to his marriage proposal, she said 'because he asked'.”

After knowing each other for just a year the pair married at Springhead in Dorset in the summer of 1997.

Mr Van Bommell said: "David struck us all as strange, he had no past – he was not on speaking terms with his family and had few friends."

In fact Diane was forced to ask Van Bommell to be David's best man at the wedding because he had no male friends of his own.

Diane then approached Mr Van Bommell again to see if he could give Chenery-Wickens a job in his London shipping yard.

During this time Mr Van Bommell described Chenery-Wickens as a 'loner'

and a 'womaniser'.

He said: "He would never come and eat with the other men in the canteen at lunch time he was always surrounding himself with women."

But it was only after the couple moved to Sussex in 2000 that the killer created his image as 'the reverend Chenery-Wickens'

He began voluntary work at the Lavender Line and offered spiritualist services to vulnerable women.

Despite proudly accompanying Diane to collect her Bafta for her work on the film Arabian Nights, behind the scenes he was conducting a string of affairs.

Chenery-Wickens had grown used to the comfortable life he now had - Diane alone paid for the £600,000 home, the Audi, Mercedes and Citroen C3 as well as the holidays they shared in Europe – and it was the thought of losing this that drove him to kill.

In the months before her death it is believed Diane was visited by bailiffs and discovered she was in £17,000 worth of debt after cheques for £24,000 from her husband bounced.

She then went through the couple’s phone bills and called numbers which uncovered his adultery.

Weeks before she had told her sister how much she trusted her husband – but over the course of the evening of January 22 the trust had gone.

During the sentencing Justice Cooke said: "You've lied to many people, particularly your wife Diane and her friends and family.

"You told her you were a loving husband who had to spend time away from her pursuing your vocation as a spiritualist minister when in fact you were spending days and nights with your mistress Kerry Lippett as well as indulging your sexual appetite with other women and other men."

On the steps of court Diane’s brother Russell said: "The enormous scale of his deceptions we know now were only matched by his depravity. There are many women that he has preyed on who deserve our sympathy. But the grossest betrayal was of the woman who deserved it least – Diane."