Gary Spalding sentenced over Denise Skilbeck murder

Gary Spalding
Image caption Spalding was ordered to serve at least 20 years in prison

A Nottinghamshire alcoholic who stabbed his girlfriend and then beat her to death with a hammer has been sentenced to life in prison.

Denise Skilbeck, 31, originally from Oxfordshire, was found dead at a house she shared with Gary Spalding in The Wharf area of Newark, on 16 March.

Spalding, 34, admitted murder at an earlier hearing.

He was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years in prison during sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court.

The court was told that Spalding carried out a "frenzied and savage" attack on his victim in her bedroom at the flat in Dobson's Quay.

A post-mortem examination found she died from a head injury.

Spalding saw his sentence reduced from 23 years to 20 in acknowledgement of his guilty plea.

'Senselessly murdered'

Judge John Milmo QC told him that "despite admitting your guilt you did nothing to help her, and left her for dead or dying."

On behalf of the family, Ms Skilbeck's parents John and Ingrid said: "Society needs to be protected from men like Gary Spalding.

"We are thankful he will now be off the streets and no longer pose a threat to anyone else for a long time to come, but the reality is this monster will be younger than us when he is released, with the rest of his life in front of him - something he took so savagely from Denise.

Image caption The IPCC is investigating contact between police and Ms Skilbeck relating to domestic incidents

"Denise, our daughter, grand-daughter, sister, auntie, niece, cousin and best friend, we miss your sense of fun, your laughter and your beautiful, loving, caring nature."

Speaking after the hearing, Det Ch Insp Brendan O'Shea said: "This is a tragic case where the victim Denise Skilbeck was senselessly and brutally murdered by her partner Gary Spalding, a man she trusted and cared deeply for.

"I hope the sentence handed down by the court today, and the knowledge that Spalding will not be at liberty again for a significant period of time, will bring some comfort to Denise's parents and her three sisters, who are here today and who have conducted themselves with great dignity throughout this investigation."

Ms Skilbeck moved from Bicester, Oxfordshire, to Newark in 2007.

She worked as an employment advisor for a recruitment agency specialising in finding work for people on health-related benefits.

In April, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced it was investigating contact between Nottinghamshire Police and Ms Skilbeck prior to her being found dead at her home.

Officers had contact with her for three years relating to "a number of domestic incidents" before she died, the police watchdog said.

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