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Man jailed for life after murdering his girlfriend with a sledgehammer

Hayley Dean was murdered by her boyfriend, James D'Arcy Photo:

A man who killed his girlfriend by hitting her over the head with a sledgehammer has been jailed for life.

Fifty year-old James Augustus John D’Arcy was found guilty of murdering thirty-eight year old Hayley Dean at the bedsit they shared at Gainslea Court in Derby Road in Bournemouth in September 2016.

During proceedings at Winchester Crown Court the jury was told that a man had driven D’Arcy to Bournemouth police station at about 6.20pm on Friday 16th September last year, and told officers that D’Arcy had claimed that he had killed his partner by hitting her over the head with a sledgehammer. When he was arrested on suspicion of murder, D'Arcy told police: “I killed my girlfriend with a hammer. I smashed her head in.”

However in court, he had denied murder, and instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He claimed he could not recall killing Hayley Dean, because he was dependent on alcohol and the dependency impaired him.

During the trial in Winchester the prosecution claimed that D’Arcy had killed Hayley during an argument at their flat. He had told officers that he had slept with her body overnight.

James D'Arcy has been jailed for life Credit: Dorset Police

A post-mortem examination found that Ms Dean had died as a result of severe blunt force impact head injuries.

The jury were told that D’Arcy had carried out a number of seemingly normal tasks after the death such as getting onto a bus, withdrawing cash, buying food from McDonalds and topping up his mobile phone, before he told anyone about Hayley’s death.

Evidence from the couple's neighbours was read in court. It said that they had heard screams and thuds coming from the flat on the evening of Thursday 15 September 2016. They described the couple's relationship as a 'turbulent' one.

D'Arcy was found guilty of murder and will have to spend a minimum of 20 years in prison before he can be considered to apply for parole.

Hayley Dean was subjected to a sustained and brutal attack at the hands of her boyfriend. She was targeted as she lay helpless in her bed and experts have said she would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately due to the ferocity of the blows delivered by James D’Arcy.

"James D’Arcy will now spend a large number of years behind bars and I hope the sentence handed out by the court today will bring some comfort for Hayley's family and reassurance to the public that a dangerous offender is now off the streets.”

– Detective Inspector Neil Phillips, Dorset Police