A cheating husband and his lover drugged his wife with morphine – so he could find out if she was having an affair, a court heard.
Richard Gell, 42, planned to use his wife’s fingerprint once she was knocked out to unlock her phone to see if she and another man had exchanged messages.
Prosecutors said that Gell’s 30-year-old mistress Jessica Coote-Sellers got the drugs for him and the pair swapped messages while they doped the unsuspecting victim.
York Crown Court was told Gell drugged his wife’s drink with an Oramorph tablet in August 2017 which “sent to her to sleep”.
However, he could not prise his wife’s hands apart to unlock her phone.
Michael Bosomworth, prosecuting, said Gell sent a picture of the wife apparently sleeping to Coote-Sellers after he had drugged her.
The court heard it was a “complete gamble” that could have resulted in an overdose.
Mr Bosomworth said: “Neither defendant knew how the victim would react (or) what dose to administer. There could have been catastrophic consequences.”
Coote-Sellers, who shared the couple’s home in Filey, North Yorkshire, told Gell’s wife about the plot two years later, when both women had ended things with him.
The court heard that their “menage-a-trois” came to an end following Gill’s acrimonious split with Coote-Sellers, who described him as “controlling and coercive”.
For the next few years, the two women kept in touch and in January 2019, Coote-Sellers told the victim: “I can tell you something, but it will probably land me with a charge.”
She said Gell had drugged the victim because he was jealous about a “supposed affair” and that he wanted to find proof by looking at her text messages.
Mr Bosomworth added: “Gell’s intention was to render the victim unconscious and get her hands apart, put her finger on the phone, examine the phone and get proof of an adulterous affair.
“This is somewhat hypocritical given the fact that Gell himself was in an adulterous relationship with Coote-Sellers.”
Mr Bosomworth said the wife told police she felt “degraded” and “violated” when she was told of the incident.
He said that she told officers: “It makes me feel violated. I can’t understand why they did it.”
The pair were arrested after Coote-Sellers’ confession and she owned up to her part in the plot immediately.
However, Gell initially denied administering the drug and tried to pin the blame on his former lover.
He told police he had “no idea why Coote-Sellers had moved in with him” and claimed she was “feeding him information” about the victim’s supposed affair.
He ultimately pleaded guilty to administering a poisonous or noxious substance with intent to injure or aggrieve.
Coote-Sellers admitted the same charge.
The court heard that the victim had married Gell in 2009 and they had a child together.
But the relationship soon began to deteriorate due to Gell’s “controlling and coercive” behaviour.
In around 2014, with the marriage already on the rocks, they moved to a new house, Coote-Sellers moved in with them and an affair began.
The court heard that Gell’s wife was was sleeping on a mattress in the living room and wanted to end the relationship but “found herself unable to do so”.
After she left Gell, he was slapped with a restraining order, which he breached.
He was serving a suspended sentence for the breach when he appeared in court over the drugging.
Andrew Semple, mitigating for Coote-Sellers, said Gell had controlled and coerced both women.
Mr Semple said Coote-Sellers was remorseful and had been under pressure from Gell when she took part in the drugging.
Taryn Turner, for Gell, said he was now in a new relationship with a woman who attended court to support him.
She told the court the trio were involved in a “curious menage-a-trois” and the wife had not suffered any physical harm.
Gell was jailed for 18 months and Coote-Sellers for 16 months.