Margaret Archer to spend at least four years in prison for murder cover-up
A South Australian woman who covered-up the murder of her son’s partner has been jailed for more than six years.
Margaret Archer pleaded guilty to assisting her son Neil Archer when he murdered his fiancée in August 2015.
Mr Archer strangled Jody Meyers with a cord from his hooded jumper following an argument after a family gathering in their home town of Mannum, east of Adelaide.Margaret Archer pleaded guilty to assisting her killer son. (9NEWS)
Her body was found under a concrete slab in a shed in the backyard of Mrs Archer’s home a month after she went missing.
Yesterday, Judge Paul Muscat sentenced Mrs Archer to six-and-a-half years jail with a non-parole term of four years.
“Not only did you permit your son to bury Jody Meyer’s body underneath your garden shed, you purchased cement using Jody’s own money and used it to bury her,” he said.
“You sent a text message to her mother to create an impression Jody Meyers was alive, well and safe when in fact you knew your son had murdered her and her body was buried underneath your shed.”
Muscat today revealed Mrs Archer also involved her two other children in the cover-up – by asking them to buy more concrete, destroy evidence and lie to police.
He described the crime as calculated, shocking and deliberate, and found it was at the higher end of the scale of seriousness for the offence of assist offender.
He pointed out that Ms Meyers and Neil Archer’s two-year-old son – who was in Margaret Archer’s care at the time – surely must have been wondering where his mother was.Neil Archer (right) strangled Ms Meyers with a cord from his hooded jumper. (9NEWS)
Judge Muscat said Ms Meyers’ family had every right to feel anger towards her.
“You were deceitful in the cruellest of ways to the family of Jody Meyers by offering them false hope that she was still alive,” he said.
Mr Archer killed Ms Meyers during an argument sparked by his concerns her family was trying to break them up.
He is serving a mandatory life sentence – with a 22-year non-parole period – for the murder.
Judge Muscat today lifted a suppression on statements Mr Archer allegedly made to two prison inmates – that his mother helped hold Ms Meyers down as he killed her.
However, the allegations were deemed inadmissible in court and did not form part of the basis upon which Margaret or Neil Archer were sentenced.
The court heard Ms Meyers was subjected to repeated instances of domestic violence at the hands of Mr Archer.Victim Jody Meyers. (SA Police)
The Judge today said Margaret Archer had also “experienced first-hand the terror and pain inflicted by two violent husbands”.
“It seems incongruous and difficult to reconcile… that you should act to protect your own son after he committed the ultimate act of domestic violence,” he said.
Margaret Archer professed her innocence until the day she was supposed to stand trial, when she pleaded guilty.
Judge Muscat found her plea did not reflect a sense of remorse, rather a realisation that a conviction was inevitable.
He said, given the strength of the prosecution case, she should have pleaded guilty much earlier and not made Ms Meyers’ family wait another 12 months for justice.
Outside court, the victim’s brother-in-law Michael Bates said the family was pleased with the sentence – which is believed to be the highest in South Australia for assist murder.Ms Meyers’ brother-in-law, Michael Bates, spoke outside court today. (AAP/AAP Image)
“Of course we would love her to be in there for life but, you know, label her for life and that’s the best we can expect really,” he said.
“She doesn’t get to just go back to jail, pack her things and come out, she’s in there for a bit longer to think about what she did so we’re pretty happy with that.”
He remembered Ms Meyers as bright, bubbly and full of life.
“She had such a huge future and she was ready to break out of that (domestic violence) cycle that she was in with Neil and she paid the ultimate price. We still remember her as we remember her before he smashed her confidence, before he broke her down.”
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018
Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers
We have experts in all areas of the Criminal Law, ensuring that each of our clients receives the most comprehensive legal advice.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers will carefully consider your case, advise you on all your legal options and recommend the best way forward.