Dorset

Man jailed for 'bondage' murder of ex-girlfriend

A man has been jailed for at least 19 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend and then claiming she accidentally strangled herself in a sex game.

Alan Pickersgill, 37, told police Julie Bywater put a cable tie around her neck at his home in Bournemouth in May 2010.

Jurors heard Ms Bywater, 32, had been in a relationship with Pickersgill but had ended it in April.

Pickersgill, of Wayside Road, was found guilty of murder by jurors at Winchester Crown Court on Tuesday.

A verdict was not reached on a separate charge of rape, which he also denied.

During the trial, prosecutors said Pickersgill killed Ms Bywater, a teaching assistant, with the cable tie because she had rejected him.

'Gone awfully wrong'

The pair met on a massage course in September 2009.

Prosecutor Anthony Donne QC said, unknown to Ms Bywater, Pickersgill had installed CCTV in his bedroom and bathroom and, when their relationship ended, he installed a tracking device in her car.

The court heard Ms Bywater offered to help Pickersgill complete the course and went to his flat on 4 May so the pair could massage each other.

The jury was played a message that Pickersgill left on his mother's answerphone later that night which said: "Panic. Do not call the police. It's gone awfully wrong. Julie and I were in a massage, one thing led to another and it ended up in sex and I killed her."

Police later found Pickersgill in the room with Ms Bywater's naked body and the cable tie around her neck.

Pickersgill will serve a life sentence of 19 years, less time spent on remand.

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