Sussex

Kayleigh Hanks murder: Ian Paton convicted of strangling partner

Kayleigh Hanks Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Kayleigh Hanks was found at her flat in London Road, Bexhill

A man has been jailed for murdering his on-off partner who was found strangled in her flat.

Ian Paton had claimed he had restrained Kayleigh Hanks, 29, at her flat in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, on 21 July, in self defence.

Hove Crown Court heard the pair had a "stormy relationship" over two years, with Ms Hanks' sister saying she had to "frequently mediate" between them.

Paton, 36, was told he would serve at least 16 years in prison.

He strangled Ms Hanks while their baby daughter slept in the same room, the court was told.

Sentencing Paton, Judge Jeremy Gold, said: "Your relationship with [Ms Hanks] was turbulent, to say the least. It has been described by more than one witness as 'toxic'.

"In any event, it culminated in an explosion of violence on 20 July last year which culminated in you killing Kayleigh by strangling her.

"Putting your hand to someone else's throat in an argument was something that you had done on previous occasions and you did it again on 20th July, this time with fatal consequences."

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Ian Paton strangled Kayleigh Hanks in a "explosion of anger", the judge said

During the two-week trial, the jury heard Paton, of Snowdrop Rise, St Leonards, once grabbed Miss Hanks's head and slammed it on to a car dashboard, and on another occasion dragged her out of a car by her hair.

Summing up, Judge Gold reminded the jury of three previous "throat grabbing incidents" involving three other different people.

Michelle Thomas, Paton's previous girlfriend, told the court: "We were in a toxic relationship. It was emotionally brutal, he would be violent to me and I would fight back."

In April 2016 police were called to the flat of Naomi Cooper, the daughter of a friend of Paton, who said: "He grabbed me with one hand around my throat, I was screaming, he then released me briefly and then came back with two hands."

The jury also heard from Ryan Midwinter - a friend of Ms Hanks - about an attack in May 2017.

He said "[Paton] pinned me down by the throat with his hand, over the arm of the sofa, I couldn't get away from him."

Det Ch Insp Andy Wolstenholme from Sussex Police, said: "Ian Paton claimed in court that he acted in self-defence during an argument with Kayleigh, who he said had come at him with a knife.

"But our investigation showed that his superficial injuries were self-inflicted."

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