John Mearns guilty of strangling partner in St Ives

Pauline Smith of St Ives, Cambridgeshire, who was strangled to death by her partner in October 2011
Image caption Pauline Smith was described as a caring woman by friends

A "controlling" man has been convicted of murder after strangling his partner at her Cambridgeshire home.

John Mearns, 54, was found guilty at Cambridge Crown Court of killing Pauline Smith, 54, of Gainsborough Drive, St Ives, in October last year.

Mearns, of no fixed address, had denied murder but admitted manslaughter.

In a statement, Mrs Smith's family said the verdict had brought "some justice" to a "heart-wrenching time of our lives".

Mearns will be sentenced on 15 June.

'Lose control'

Post-mortem tests showed Mrs Smith died of compression to the neck.

She had been strangled for a significant period of time - believed to be a matter of minutes.

The court heard Mearns had been in an "on-off relationship" with Mrs Smith after she separated from her husband, Barry, earlier in 2011.

Mr Mearns, who was described as a "possessive, jealous and controlling man", had occasionally visited Mrs Smith at her flat.

He reacted badly when he began to lose control of the relationship, the court heard.

The prosecution said Mrs Smith's friends had described her as a caring woman with a "soft, sensitive side", who always wanted to see the best in people.

Mrs Smith's family said in a statement: "We can never put into words what he [John Mearns] has done to our family and friends, however today has given us, and Mum, some justice.

"The sentencing will never be enough or bring back Mum but we hope now that this heart-wrenching time of our lives can be put behind us and look forward to the future as Mum would have wanted us to."

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