‘Sickening’ Barnsley pair who tortured and killed another woman over a stolen necklace jailed for 52 years

Two Barnsley women have today been jailed for more then 50 years after being found guilty of the ‘sickening’ torture and murder of another woman.

Girlfriends Penelope Brownlie, aged 45, and Justine Wainwright (aka Bridget O’Keefe), 58, both of Britannia Close in Barnsley, were today convicted of of the murder of 42-year-old Clare Louise Smith in May this year.

Justine Wainwright (aka Bridget OKeefe), aged 58, and Penelope Brownlie, aged 45.

Justine Wainwright (aka Bridget OKeefe), aged 58, and Penelope Brownlie, aged 45.

After a two-and-a-half week trial at Sheffield Crown Court they were both sentenced to 26 years behind bars each.

Miss Smith was found by members of the public on land just off Union Street in Barnsley, on the morning of Saturday, May 19 earlier this year.

She had been violently beaten and left with 74 different injuries including spine, rib, elbow and leg fractures, in a sustained attack thought to be motivated by the theft of a gold necklace.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Mark Oughton, said: “When we found Miss Smith’s body, it was clear that she had suffered a severe and sustained physical attack.

“Through comprehensive detective work, Brownlie and Wainwright were soon identified as suspects and subsequently arrested.

“The attack was motivated by the suspicion that Miss Smith had some knowledge of a reported stolen necklace, which she denied. 

“The pair used extreme levels of violence to try to extract information from Miss Smith, which is sickening. She was killed because of the questions she could not answer. After murdering her, they unceremoniously dumped her body yards from their flat and then went about cleaning the address and disposing of evidence.

“The dedicated investigation team worked meticulously to piece together the last movements of Miss Smith and those of the defendants through extensive CCTV and witness enquiries. Detailed forensic work was pivotal in these convictions. 

“During the trial, the defendants claimed that some of the injuries had been self-inflicted. They claimed that once Miss Smith left their address, she was attacked by another unknown person who had killed her. This caused distress to the family who have had to endure two weeks of harrowing evidence listening about the last moments Miss Smith was alive.

“They gave no thought to the impact their actions would have on Miss Smith’s friends and family and on the local community.

“I am pleased the jury saw through this fabrication of lies.

“I hope that knowing they are now behind bars for a significant length of time offers some condolence to Miss Smith’s friends and family.”