AN innocent woman - who endured a nightmare trial after her ex-boyfriend died on a bonfire - has been awarded substantial damages in a case that has cost the taxpayer £1 million.

Kirsti Windsor, 42, and her friend Katie Brown, 35, were awarded more than £100,000 in damages after suing West Mercia police after both were wrongfully arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice following the death of David Langdon, 40, in August 2008.

Horse trainer Kirsti was also charged with murdering her ex-partner - yet a jury unanimously acquitted her in less than three hours after a six week trial - and the pair have now been totally vindicated after the police settled their case - which attracted costs of around £900,000.

Ms Windsor returned to the cottage she and her husband shared in Wormelow, Herefordshire, in August 2008 to find David Langdon missing – but some of his possessions, including his passport, still there.

She noticed a smouldering bonfire at the rear of the property but only discovered the charred body four days later and alerted police, saying she believed Mr Langdon, a 40-year-old odd-job man, had committed suicide after they had decided to end their four-year romance.

Richard Clayton QC told Judge Rawlings at Birmingham County Court: "It was a case of some considerable complexity. We had a trial bundle of 30,000 documents. It is not a straightforward case."

Solicitor Nick Turner, of Russell and Co, in Malvern, speaking after an interim award of £275,000 costs for the claimants, said: "These are innocent women and their ordeal after the death of Mr Langdon in August 2008 has been a nightmare.

'Ms Windsor had the heartache of finding her former partner on a bonfire and then was unlawfully detained by police for three days and 16 hours and wrongfully charged with his murder.

"Both women were charged, but their legal claim was based on the allegation that police officers acting in bad faith had them prosecuted.

"A jury at Worcester Crown Court after a six week trial before Mr Justice Flaux found them both very quickly not guilty on February 23rd 2011 and Ms Windsor was acquitted of murder, manslaughter and perverting the course of justice and Ms Brown was acquitted of the latter.

"There was no pathological evidence of murder or evidence of strangulation.

"There was no forensic, or other, evidence that showed that Ms Windsor had been involved in any struggle with Mr Langdon or the disposal of his body.

"There was no evidence or explanation as to how Ms Windsor would have been able to overpower and kill Mr Langdon, a tall, fit and well-built man who was considerably stronger than Ms Windsor.

"No motive for Ms Windsor having murdered Mr Langdon was ever identified.

"In fact, it may well be that Mr Langdon, after drinking heavily, killed himself by burning himself on a bonfire which he had lit in the back garden of the cottage where they had lived.

"The huge settlement payments of damages made by the police confirm that the police themselves have finally recognised the scale of their wrongdoing.

"But the whole ordeal could have been shortened and the taxpayer saved in the region of £1 million if the police had only settled the case swiftly.'

The pair were suing the Chief Constable of West Mercia David Shaw for "wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution," but after years of litigation the police settled the case.

Ms Windsor said: 'It's been a long rocky road to get some form of justice.

'The police have dragged it out, but I am pleased to be vindicated.

"I didn't murder anyone as there was never a murder in the first place. It's been an absolute nightmare."

The police wanted an interim payment of £225,000, but Judge Rawlings awarded the claimant's legal team £275,000 in interim costs. A full review of all costs will be made before any further costs are awarded, but it's believed that legal bills on both sides will be in the region of £450,000.