Sheffield man denies murder after 'the woman he loved' was allegedly strangled to death

A man has denied murdering ‘the woman he loved’ after she was allegedly strangled to death at her home.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:40 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 5:14 pm

Sheffield Crown Court heard on February 22 how David Bestwick, aged 60, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, had been with 44-year-old single 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, Greenhill, about midnight.

But Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said Mr Bestwick had called police at 3.56am, on September 6, saying he had strangled his girlfriend.

Mr Thyne added: “He told the operator, ‘I’ve just strangled my girlfriend’. When asked why he had strangled her he answered, ‘I loved her. She didn’t want me’.”

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Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, heard how a Sheffield man has denied murder after the woman he loved was allegedly strangled to death.

Police found Ms Howarth lying on the sofa unconscious and naked apart from her dressing gown, accordng to Mr Thyne, and despite efforts by police and paramedics she had suffered an unsurvivable brain injury due to a lack of oxygen after a cardiac arrest caused by pressure to her neck.

Mr Thyne said Ms Howarth was taken to the Northern General Hospital but her life support was withdrawn and she was pronounced dead on September 8.

He added that following Mr Bestwick’s arrest events were recorded on police officers’ bodyworn cameras.

Mr Thyne said: “One of the things he said to the police whilst he was under arrest was, ‘Love or money isn’t it? Two reasons for murder’.”

It appeared to have been common knowledge among those at the White Swan, according to Mr Thyne, that the defendant wanted a relationship but Ms Howarth did not feel the same.

One witness stated Mr Bestwick had told him Ms Howarth was using him and he had been annoyed.

Mr Bestwick told police he had consumed about ten or eleven pints of Strongbow and Ms Howarth had also been drinking and he claimed they had previously been intimate together.

He added they fell asleep on the setee and he claimed when she had woken she had wanted sex.

Mr Bestwick told police he put his arms around Ms Howarth to have a kiss and cuddle as she seemed disappointed and he found his hands around her neck and he had not intended to strangle her but he said it had been like a “red mist”.

The defendant stated he loved Ms Howarth and they had become intimate and even though she did not want a relationship he got the impression the situation would be like “friends with benefits”.

He added he did not think love was the reason for what had happened.

Mr Thyne said forensic evidence indicated a cellular trace on Ms Howarth’s neck was possibly from the defendant but there were no scientific findings from her fingernails which might have indicated a struggle.

He added no sperm was found on Ms Howarth’s body but cellular material was found on a swab taken from the defendant which could have been from attempted intercourse and staining found on the defendant’s t-shirt matched the DNA of Ms Howarth.

Mr Bestwick has pleaded not guilty to murder. The trial continues.