Man who murdered single mum because she 'didn't love him back' jailed for life

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
David Bestwick has been jailed for life for murdering Maria Howarth. (South Yorkshire Police)
David Bestwick has been jailed for life for murdering Maria Howarth. (South Yorkshire Police)

A 60-year-old man accused of strangling a woman to death because she didn't love him back has been jailed for life.

David Bestwick called 999 and told the operator "I've just strangled my girlfriend" after walking Maria Howarth to her home after drinking in the pub.

Prosecutors told the court Bestwick felt he was "in love" with the single mother for about three years, but it was common knowledge that she did not feel the same.

He told the emergency services operator that he "loved her... she didn’t want me".

At trial, he denied murder, but was found guilty on 26 February he and he received a minimum jail term of 17 years on 1 March.

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Maria Howarth was murdered by David Bestwick. (South Yorkshire Police)
Maria Howarth was murdered by David Bestwick. (South Yorkshire Police)

A witness said Bestwick considered Howarth to be using him and he had been annoyed.

Bestwick had been drinking with his victim and friends at the White Swan, Sheffield, the evening before.

He walked her home at midnight, having claimed to had about eleven pints of cider, and said he went to have "a kiss and cuddle" but found his hands on her neck.

The defendant claimed he did not mean to strangle her but felt a "red mist".

Sheffield Crown Court heard that after Bestwick called 999 just before 4am on 6 September, emergency services took the unconscious 44-year-old Howarth to hospital. She was pronounced dead two days later.

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said when police arrested him, Bestwick remarked: "Love or money isn’t it? Two reasons for murder."

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Howarth had suffered an unsurvivable brain injury due to lack of oxygen after a cardiac arrest, which was caused by pressure to her neck, the trial heard.

There were no signs of a struggle.

In a statement, Howarth's family said: "Maria believed in the British justice system and the family would like to thank South Yorkshire Police for their diligence and professionalism in bringing the defendant to justice.

"But no sentence, however long, is as long as the sentence the family will have to endure with this heinous crime that has been committed."

Detective Chief Inspector James Axe, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "My condolences once more go to Maria’s family and I echo their sentiment that no sentence passed will ever be able to undo the pain of losing their loved one.

"Bestwick will now spend a considerable period of time behind bars for his mindless, violent crime that took a woman’s life."

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