A "theatrical and slightly odd" lady took a dark secret to her grave when she passed away from cancer in 2015.

Lee Sabine had lived in Australia and New Zealand before returning to Wales in 1997, settling in the village of Beddau with her former accountant husband John Sabine.

Later that year, Mr Sabine, 67, disappeared and was never seen again – but he was never reported missing and his name even continued to appear on the electoral register, reports WalesOnline.

Lee, a former cabaret singer, quietly continued with her life after her husband's disappearance, and took a keen interest in gardening, turning their "neglected garden" into "a little piece of paradise", she told a magazine called RCT Homes in 2012.

It was in this very same garden that Mr Sabine's remains would be discovered three years later, after Lee's death.

As her health was deteriorating, Lee's neighbour Michelle James acted as a carer for her.

It was during this time that Lee told her there was a medical skeleton wrapped up in the garden, which she alleged she acquired while working as a nurse.

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Michelle said: "Lee had told everyone she had a medical skeleton but I never saw it.

"I once asked if I could borrow it for Halloween and she said: 'Don’t you ever touch that'."

On November 24, 2015, after Lee had passed away, Michelle and friend Rhian Lee decided to unwrap the skeleton to play a prank, but it soon became apparent that the skeleton was real.

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The mother-of-three opened up the package and cut through several layers of plastic, cardboard, and tin foil before she made the grim discovery.

She said: "The body was in a grey package in the garden. An old wooden frame and a baker’s tray had been dumped on top. Then I saw this sludge inside and there was a horrible smell.

"I just screamed: 'There’s a dead body, a dead body'. I completely lost the plot. I was in meltdown."

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An inquest later heard the body, which was dressed in St Michael branded pyjamas, had been gruesomely preserved by a process called "chemical mummification".

On 11 December 2015, DNA tests revealed the body belonged to John Sabine, and a post-mortem examination concluded that the likely cause of death was by a number of skull fractures.

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Lee Sabine was named as the prime suspect for the murder by police – and it soon came to light that she had openly confessed to a friend that she murdered her husband with a stone frog ornament.

Valerie Chalkley said she thought Lee was joking when she made the confession.

Ms Chalkley said: "It was a couple of years since we’d spoken so I said, 'I wondered what had happened to you both. I would have thought by now that one of you would have killed the other'.

"She replied, 'It’s funny you should say that. I’ve killed him. I’ve battered him with a stone frog which was at the side of the bed. He was just driving me mad. Every night he would get into bed crying and weeping saying, You don’t fancy me."

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