A POLICE inspector left bloodstained trainers in a wheelie bin after killing his wife and dumping her body in a lake, a court has heard.

Darren McKie, aged 43, was seen twice by officers on patrol in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in the early hours of September 29 last year, before the body of his wife Leanne, aged 39, a detective constable, was discovered in Poynton Lake.

Chester Crown Court has heard the couple, who both worked for Greater Manchester Police, had debts of more than £100,000.

Nigel Power QC, prosecuting, said police officers first saw McKie walking, three-and-a-half miles away from his home in Burford Close, at 1.30am on September 29.

About 45 minutes later, police saw him again, this time wearing no shoes on his feet, and took him home where he had left the couple's three children alone, the court heard.

He told officers he had become concerned for his wife and was worried that she could have been in a car crash, so went out to look for her.

McKie said he had taken his trainers off and thrown them away because his "feet were rubbing".

Later that day, after his wife's body was discovered in the lake, officers recovered the New Balance trainers from a wheelie bin close to his home, where he had been seen walking earlier that morning, it was claimed.

Mr Power told the court DNA tests showed the trainers had been worn by the defendant and were stained with his wife's blood.

Mud on the trainers showed soil similar to that in the area where the body was found, jurors heard.

The court heard a post-mortem examination showed Mrs McKie was likely to have been killed at about noon, the day before she was found.

Her injuries were consistent with having been strangled and having a hand "forcibly placed over the mouth", Mr Power said.

When he was charged with murder McKie told officers: "I did not kill my wife."

Mr Power told the jury: "That is the issue you will have to decide in this case, whether it was Mr McKie who killed his wife or whether it was some other person."

The court heard McKie had given a prepared statement to police, in which he said he knew nothing about how his wife met her death.

In a second statement, he said his wife would have "irrational worries" and would "fly off the handle easily and regularly".

He said they were in the process of sorting out debts but his wife "did not want to be reminded of it".

The court was read a statement from Mrs McKie's mother, Ellen Dodd, who said she and her husband Raymond thought Darren was a "nice person" and seemed "genuinely caring towards Leanne".

She said that about five years ago, Mrs McKie had been upset because she discovered her husband owed £20,000 on a credit card, but his parents had helped him with the debt.

She said: "After this, Ray and I believed their cash flow problems had been solved."

Yesterday, the court heard from Nigel Power QC, prosecuting, that friends described the couple, who had three children, as the "perfect family".

But he said the McKies, who both worked for Greater Manchester Police, were "living well beyond their means" and "under considerable financial pressure".

The court heard they had debts of more than £100,000 — including bank and credit card balances, loans and money owed for renovation work to their new home in Burford Close in Wilmslow.

Fifteen loan applications had been made in McKie and his wife's name on September 22, a week before her death, although only one was successful.

Mr Power told the jury: "The prosecution say all those applications were made by Mr McKie, made by him without his wife's knowledge."

The court was played a recording of a phone call Mrs McKie made to company AA Loans on September 5 in which she said her husband had not applied for any loans, although his details had been used for applications.

In a text message sent to her husband the following day, Mrs McKie asked him: "Are we in a mess??? Please tell me!"

But, he replied telling her to "please stop doubting me".

The jury was told McKie had accessed the police computer to find proof of earnings for his wife, which he sent to loan company Fluent Finance with the hope of borrowing £54,000 — on the basis it would consolidate his debts.

On the morning of her death, Mrs McKie received a letter from the company and sent her husband a message which said: "You liar. Just got back a loan application with my passport and my name."

She sent a second message saying: "I asked you and you promised. Fluent Finance? Who are they? Are we in such a mess? Why again? The kids need clothes and shoes what's going on?"

McKie, who wore a navy suit for the court hearing, had replied saying "I'm coming home".

He left work at Stretford Police Station at about 11.30am that day and returned to the house, the court was told.

Mr Power said: "The game was up. Not only were they in terrible financial trouble, but the defendant had been going behind his wife's back."

The court heard Mrs McKie had been due in work at 3pm that day but did not arrive.

Her car, a red Mini, was seen leaving the house at about 12.45pm, when the prosecution alleges it was driven by the defendant, who returned to the house on foot minutes later.

McKie later went to pick their children up from school and sent text messages to his wife at 3.30pm and 9.20pm.

The court heard the Mini was seen driving around the Poynton area on the night of September 28 and the early hours of the following day.

Mr Power said: "The defendant, in that car, had taken his dead wife to the lake at Poynton, dragged her along to the lakeside and dumped her body in the lake."

McKie denies the murder and manslaughter of his wife.

The trial continues.