Murderer who strangled woman to death knew victim's young daughter was in the house

A murderer who strangled a woman to death in her home knew his victim’s young daughter was in the house.

By Jon Cooper
Monday, 1st March 2021, 1:49 pm

Sheffield Crown Court heard during a trial how David Bestwick, aged 60, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, had denied murdering 44-year-old Maria Howarth but after a jury found him guilty he was sentenced on March 1, to life imprisonment.

Richard Thyne, prosecutung, said Bestwick had claimed to have loved single-mum Ms Howarth and he had been with her and her friends at the White Swan pub, at Greenhill, Sheffield, on September 5, before walking her home to nearby School Lane about midnight.

He said Bestwick called police about four hours later, on September 6, saying he had strangled Ms Howarth at her home.

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Pictured is deceased Maria Howarth, aged 44, of School Lane, Greenhill, Sheffield, who was strangled and murdered in her own home.

Mr Thyne added Ms Howarth’s ten-year-old daughter had tried to come downstairs as paramedics had been trying to revive her mother.

He said: “She came downstairs during the incident itself as the paramedics were conducting CPR and fortunately the police sergeant was able to intercept her at the bottom of the stairs so the officer prevented her from entering the space where she could have seen anything.”

Judge Roger Thomas QC said the youngster had been asleep and Bestwick had known she was there when he strangled Ms Howarth in the living room.

Ms Howarth’s auntie, Sally Howarth-Ellis, stated: “She lost the best person in the world to her. I cannot describe how close they were. The love between them was so special.”

Pictured is David Bestwick, aged 60, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, who has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17 years.

She added the youngster’s mother will not be there for her when she gets married, or graduates, or has children and they will never share those experiences.

Ms Howarth-Ellis said her family is worried for the youngster because she will grow up knowing someone took her mother’s life and she had been there at the time.

She added: “As a family we will be there for her and support her but this is somethng that should not have happened. The fact remains we have lost Maria because of the actions of someone else. We are all carrying a life sentence.”

Bestwick told police he put his arms around Ms Howarth to cuddle her after she had seemed disappointed with him after he claimed 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”.

Kama Melly, defending, said Bestwick had claimed he loved Ms Howarth and that they had been initimate and he admitted strangling her but he had claimed he had not intended to cause serious harm or kill her.

Judge Thomas said Bestwick had been unrealistcally infatuated and had built-up a sense of rejection and resentement with Ms Howarth who had been kind to him and had not led him on or provoked him and she did not want a relationship.

Judge Thomas told Bestwick: “You must have lost your self-control when Maria said she was tired and wanted nothng more than to go to bed.”

He sentenced Bestwick, who has previous convictions, to life imprisonment and he must serve a minimum of 17 years before he can be released.

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