A binge drinker strangled his partner of 15 years before calling paramedics and claiming she was in cardiac arrest has been jailed for life.
Robert Simpson-Scott, of Lamb Drove, Cambourne, called the ambulance service at just before 11pm on December 4 last year, telling them his girlfriend Sally Cavender had fallen unconscious.
The 44-year-old became uncooperative while on the phone to the call handler and during the 999 call he was heard to say, “She’s dead, she’s gone, I’ve killed my wife”, jurors at Cambridge Crown Court heard.
Paramedics arrived and Sally was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in a serious condition. Police were not told immediately but at 1.30am, while at the hospital on an unrelated matter, an officer was approached by Sally’s doctor.
The doctor raised concerns about the nature of her injuries, adding that he believed she may have been strangled.
Simpson-Scott was arrested at his house at just after 3am on suspicion of attempted murder. He told officers he was in shock and reiterated an earlier claim to paramedics that he and Sally were having sex when she suddenly “went limp”.
Simpson-Scott had injuries including a cut to his foot and a bump to his head. He claimed he cut his foot on a broken wine glass and hit his head falling down the stairs.
A neighbour then also told police he had been attacked by Simpson-Scott, who had strangled him until he fell unconscious.
At 5.27pm, Sally died of her injuries. She had a fractured spine, multiple rib fractures and a hypoxic brain injury, meaning she was unable to breathe by herself. She also had extensive bruising around her eyes, neck and arms.
In police interview Simpson-Scott answered “no comment” to all questions. He gave officers a prepared statement, which reiterated claims Sally had suddenly lost consciousness.
He told police Sally, who lived in Sawston, had been his partner of 15 years and their relationship had never been violent – but both of them had “alcohol problems”.
In relation to his neighbour, Simpson-Scott admitted he had seen him on December 4 and claimed they’d had a ‘play fight’, which resulted in him pinching the man’s neck. He claimed when he left his neighbour’s flat the man was awake and alert.
Simpson-Scott was charged with Sally’s murder and the attempted murder of his neighbour. He denied the charges but admitted manslaughter in relation to Sally.
However, he stood trial at Cambridge Crown Court from June 10 and was found guilty of murder. Jurors found him not guilty of attempting to murder his neighbour.
He was today (Thursday) sentenced to life in prison at the Old Bailey in London. He will serve a minimum of 18 years.
Detective Inspector Emma Pitts, who investigated, said: “Simpson-Scott viciously took away the life of his partner of 15 years, who no doubt trusted him beyond measure.
“Sally’s family will remember her as a much-loved daughter and sister. They describe her as a bright, bubbly girl who loved to travel, go to concerts and was full of laughter and fun.
“They will never see her again and they have been left absolutely devastated. Simpson-Scott tried to deny the horrific attack but today justice has been done.
“I hope this fact helps Sally’s family, in some way, to live with their loss and grief.”
In a statement, Sally’s brother Nick Cavender said: “Sally was a bright and bubbly person but she also lacked self-confidence and battled with alcohol dependency for many years.
“While that led her to make very poor decisions about her lifestyle and choice of partner, she was a very vulnerable person and no-one deserves to have their life ended in the way that hers was.
“Sally was killed just a few days before our mother died. Indeed, Robert was supposed to take Sally to see our mother the day after [he killed her]. Instead of a visit from Sally, my mum had a visit from the police.
“Mum did everything she could to support Sally, and while as a family we wish we could have done more to help her, the reality was she was being controlled and used by an evil, manipulative man who did nothing to help her.
“Those who knew Sally remember her as a lovely girl, and now the trial is over we hope to hold a memorial to remember happier times and we hope that Sally is now at peace.
“We would like to thank the paramedics, police and pathologists, and all involved, in their hard work in investigating her tragic murder.”
A statement from Sally’s sister Suzy Cavender said: “We are deeply traumatised by Sally’s tragic murder and were too shocked and overwhelmed with grief to be able to attend the trial.
“It is sickening that Robert tried to twist Sally’s murder and it has only added further injury to our shock and pain.
“Those who knew Sally remember her as a lovely girl and we all found out, when it was too late to help her, that she was being conned and controlled by a very evil man for his own gain.”