Accused Sheffield murderer claims he did not intend to harm or kill the woman he loved

An accused murderer who admitted strangling the woman he loved has claimed he did not intend to cause her serious harm or kill her.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 12:52 pm

Sheffield Crown Court has heard during an on-going trial that David Bestwick, aged 60, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, had been with 44-year-old mum Maria Howarth and her friends at the White Swan pub, at Greenhill, Sheffield, on September 5, before walking back with her to her home on nearby School Lane.

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said Mr Bestwick had called police about four hours later, on September 6, saying he had strangled his girlfriend at her home and she was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital but her life support was withdrawn and she was pronounced dead on September 8.

Mr Bestwick had told police he put his arms around Ms Howarth to cuddle her after she had seemed disappointed with him after they had attempted to be sexually intimate and he found his hands around her neck and he had not intended to strangle her but said it had been like a “red mist”.

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Pictured is deceased Maria Howarth, of School Lane, Greenhill, Sheffield, who was allegedly murdered.

Defence barrister Kama Melly told the jury on February 25 that although David Bestwick accepts he caused Maria Howarth's death he did not intend to cause serious harm or death or intend to kill her.

She said: “The defendant indicated that the death, the result of what took place, was accidental and throughout the incident the defendant intended no harm whatsoever to Maria.”

Ms Melly claims there is an absence of motive, planning or any other violence on the part of the defendant and there is a lack of evidence about the defendant's intention to cause serious harm or death.

She added: “It’s absolutely clear the defendant did not plan for what took place late-on in that night in September, last year.”

Pictured is Sheffield Crown Court.

Ms Melly added he loved her and he thought well of her and he has not blamed her or tried to blacken her name and there had been a clear friendship, attachment and intimacy between the defendant and Maria Howarth indicated by the nature of affectionate texts.

She said: “There is clear evidence of a friendship, attraction and intimacy between Maria and David.”

Ms Melly also said said the strangulation did not break any bones or cartliage and there is no evidence about how long it took place.

Mr Thyne, prosecuting, claimed it appeared to have been common knowledge among those at the White Swan that the defendant had wanted a relationship but Ms Howarth had not felt the same way.

Pathologist, Dr Naomi Carter, confirmed Ms Howarth’s injuries were consistent with strangulation after she had suffered a severe hypoxic ischaemic brain injury caused by an inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to her brain as a result of a cardiac arrest and the damage was unsurvivable.

Mr Bestwick has pleaded not guilty to murder. The trial jury is expected to begin considering their verdict today, Friday, February 26.

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