Son-in-law jailed for murdering great-grandmother in her bed

A former plumber who sexually assaulted and murdered his elderly mother-in-law has been jailed for life.

Simon Parks, 52, strangled 79-year-old Mari O’Flynn as she lay in bed at the home they shared in Newport, Gwent.

Parks, an alcoholic, held a long-term grunge against the mother-of-three and a few months after she moved into the mid-terrace property he shared with her daughter, he left.

Simon Parks was jailed for life for murdering his mother-in-law (Gwent Police/PA)
Simon Parks was jailed for life for murdering his mother-in-law (Gwent Police/PA)

However, just five days before the killing on May 24 this year Parks had returned to the house in Leach Road in Bettws.

Cardiff Crown Court was told Parks had been drinking heavily before and after the murder – making repeated trips to local shops to buy cans of lager, whiskey and cigarettes.

It was only several hours later that he confessed to a neighbour, who then found Ms O’Flynn’s semi-naked body in bed and called the police.

Michael Jones KC, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant harboured resentment and anger towards the deceased, not least because she had moved into live with her daughter, Claire O’Flynn, his partner, and he had to move out because of his dislike of her mother.

“The defendant had made threats towards Mari O’Flynn which had been witnessed by neighbours and Mari had told family members about.

“It is the prosecution case that the defendant intended to kill Mari O’Flynn. He physically assaulted her by repeatedly punching her to the face as she lay in bed, then strangled her to death.

“There is clear evidence she tried to fight him off as he did that.

“The prosecution case is that there was also a sexual element to the offence. The forensic evidence, and in particular the statement of the forensic scientist, indicates the defendant sexually assaulted Mrs O’Flynn.

“However, it cannot be determined whether that was prior to, at the time of, or after her death.”

Mari O'Flynn was found dead in bed in the home she shared with her killer (Gwent Police/PA)
Mari O’Flynn was found dead in bed in the home she shared with her killer (Gwent Police/PA)

The court was told after retiring Mrs O’Flynn and her late husband Maurice moved to Greece but following his death in 2017 she returned to Wales to live with one of her daughters.

In September last year, the great-grandmother moved to stay with Ms O’Flynn, who had been in a relationship with Parks for 14 years.

The pensioner, who was described as a “quiet lady”, suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Parks, whose drinking had worsened in recent years and rarely worked, moved out in January this year but returned days before the murder.

At 7am on May 24, Parks bought eight cans of lager from a shop before returning to buy another four cans and cigarettes.

An hour later he had returned home, where he murdered Mrs O’Flynn.

He changed clothes and left the property to buy more alcohol before returning at lunchtime to tell a neighbour: “I’ve had it now. I’ve killed her.”

Asked why, he replied: “Fags, I didn’t have any cigarettes. I asked her for some, but she wouldn’t give me any and she wound me up, so I strangled her.”

Parks was arrested by police and in custody told officers: “All this kicked off over nothing at all, but I ended up strangling my would-be mother-in-law over nothing.

“I am not going to be able to live with myself after this. Really speaking, this never should have happened. All them years together, fine, then she turns up and five months causing f***ing murder, you know.”

Parks, of no fixed abode, previously admitted a single charge of murder.

David Elias KC, defending, said Parks had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and those that knew him were at a “total loss” to understand why.

“This defendant concedes and accepts the evidence he has seen, and there was some sexual element and conduct within this offence,” he said.

“The extent of that conduct will almost certainly never be known. Looking back on it, in the cold light of day, he accepts that Mari O’Flynn must have been terrified by that ordeal.”

Jailing Parks for life with a minimum term of 25 years, Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, the Recorder of Cardiff, said: “You assaulted her both physically and sexually, and strangled her until she was dead. She fought for her life biting and scratching your face, so that it bled.

“It is clear what you have done will cause life-long trauma and unimaginable grief to Mrs O’Flynn’s family.

“I’m satisfied on the facts of this case that you intended to kill Mrs O’Flynn because of the physical assault that went well beyond the strangulation and because you persisted in your violence towards her despite Mrs O’Flynn trying to fight you off with such force she caused you a number of injuries.”

Mrs O’Flynn’s family said in a statement: “Our mam was taken away from us in terrible circumstances but we hope that today enables us to move forward as a family, hopefully with some closure.

“We will always try to remember mam for her sparkle, repeating her funny stories about the good times she had living in Greece, or hogging the TV to watch all the sport whilst drinking endless cups of tea.

“Today and the last six months have been harrowing and there is some peace knowing the man responsible is behind bars.”