TEN years ago, the family of a sadistic killer were still claiming that he had been wrongly convicted of murdering his pretty wife to get his hands on £100,000 insurance money to fund a luxurious lifestyle with his mistress.
Mark Traversari earned just £8,000 a year as a palette supervisor with gluemakers Evode while his wife Alison (nee Follows) had a salary of £15,000 working in the control room of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Ironically, her badly charred body was found by firefighting colleagues in the bedroom of the home she and Traversari shared at Willowmoor, Stafford, after what was initially believed to be an explosion in the early hours of October 25, 1995.
Traversari told police that he and Alison had been victims of intruders and that the house had blown up “like a volcano”, he escaping and being helped by neighbours who called the fire brigade.
But the police became suspicious when they learned that Traversari stood to gain £100,000 in insurance money from his wife's death along with the value of the house and its contents.
Further investigations revealed that Treversari had been cheating on his wife with young mistress Catherine Boycott only a short while after he and Alison had married at Seighford Parish Church in July 1992.
Miss Boycott had been urging the cheating husband to leave his wife but there was one big obstacle in his path - money or, rather, the lack of it. Alison knew of his affair and after a short separation, she had forgiven him.
Traversari had met university student Miss Boycott while he was restaurant manager at the Garth Hotel where she had a holiday job as a waitress.
Other evidence which came to light pointed the finger of suspicion at Traversari including moving his wife's Tigra car away from the site of the explosion, the cutting of a cable of an outside security light and removing much of his clothing to the love nest he shared with his mistress in Leeds just weeks before the explosion.
Traversari also had a notebook book containing an inventory of the house and its contents which would have been the basis of subsequent insurance claim and also a letter sent to his mistress setting out his income and expenditure.
The letter told her: “We would both be living in a dream world if we said money doesn't matter. I'm not going to come to you with just my heart. I won't come to you broke."
Traversari backed up his claim of intruders by using an airgun on his wife, binding her up, gagging her with a tea towel and dousing her with petrol.
It wasn't Mark Traversari's first marriage . . . Alison Follows was just 20 when she actually met him at his wedding to his first wife Sharon Carter at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in 1988. It was a marriage which lasted just 12 weeks.
After the two began courting, Alison took him to meet her parents, Alan and Margaret Follows, of Great Bridgeford, and lived with him for a short while.
Mrs Follows told the Newsletter: “We didn't approve. One day I just happened to say something and she went red. She said she was sleeping with Mark."
Traversari seemed unable to hold down a job for very long and had admitted his affair just three weeks after he and Alison returned from a honeymoon in the Maldives.
Her father Alan later went on to describe his son-in-law as “a sadistic evil monster”.
“I don't believe he ever loved her. I don't believe he wanted to get married."
Alison, described as slim and pretty with perfect white teeth and halo of golden hair, had had a string of “nice boyfriends”, said her parents who found it difficult to understand why their daughter didn't leave Traversari early in the marriage.
Mr Follows commented: “He was always telling her she was fat, that she had got cellulite on her thighs. One day I sprang up and said I've had enough of you and your bloody fat and cellulite. You take your clothes off and go and stand in front of that mirror. You're the one that is
Mark and Alison Traversari had two cars and a mortgage to pay but their household budget was skilfully managed by Alison who was more than surprised on one occasion when her husband walked in with a new leather jacket sporting a price tag of £267."
Her parents claimed that although Traversari was sacked on many occasions, it never seemed to be his fault. When he worked at the Garth pub, the drinks cabinet was full of bottles which he claimed were given to him by sales reps.
“When he worked at a pizza place, the freezer was full of gateaux," said Mrs Follows.
Traversari had been convicted of burglary as an 18-year-old but during their marriage, he made several insurance claims including for a car that had caught fire.
Mr Follows recalled going to their home and finding four expensive aluminium wheels in the kitchen. “The car was outside on bricks, torched. Asking why the wheels were off. He said he'd been scared they were going to get stolen. On that night?"
Over the years, Traversari's family have protested his innocence starting with his mother who, in the aftermath of scenes of joy from Alison’s friends and colleagues at her son's conviction, told the Newsletter: “He's innocent. I know it. We will get to the bottom of this."
But the court convicted him of murder and he was given a life sentence.