The family of a strangled Sheffield murder victim has told how they are living a life sentence

The family of a murder victim who was strangled to death has told how they have been left living a life sentence.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 12:38 pm
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 12:42 pm

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

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, had told the trial 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 with her to her home on nearby School Lane, Greenhill, about midnight.

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

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Pictured is David Bestwick, aged 60, of Chesterfield Road, Sheffield, who has been found guilty of murdering Maria Howarth and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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’.”

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Mr Thyne said Ms Howarth was taken to the Northern General Hospital but her life support was withdrawn and she was pronounced dead on September 8.

Ms Howarth’s auntie Sally Howarth-Ellis stated: “As a family we are suffering. We are constantly feeling pain that cannot be described in mere words from losing Maria in our lives.”

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

She added: “The fact remains we have lost Maria because of the actions of someone else. We are all carrying a life sentence.”

Mr Thyne said Bestwick wanted a relationship but Ms Howarth did not feel the same and one witness stated Bestwick had told him Ms Howarth was using him and he had been annoyed.

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 intimate and he admitted strangling her but he had claimed he had not intended to cause serious harm or kill her.

The court heard Ms Howarth’s ten-year-old daughter had woken during the incident but she was prevented from seeing her mother by a police officer.

Judge Roger Thomas QC said Bestwick had been infatuated and had built-up a sense of rejection and resentment with Ms Howarth who had been kind to him but did not want a relationship.

Judge Thomas told Bestwick: “You always acknowledged Maria gave you no cause to act as you did. She had not led you on or provoked you in any sense. You must have lost your self-control when Maria said she was tired and wanted nothing 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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