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16 years for cancer partner killer

John Doyle had attempted to argue self defence Photo: Devon & Cornwall Police

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 16 years, after being found guilty of murdering his partner, whose body was found in his van after he crashed on his way to dispose of it.

Sian Rees, originally from Aberdare, was strangled by her partner John Doyle, 54, at their home just hours after she had undergone major surgery for breast cancer.

The 50-year-old had decided to end their strained relationship of 15 years after he arrived to drive her home from the hospital so drunk from an all-day drinking session that she had to go against medical advice and get behind the wheel herself.

Sian Rees, 50, was originally for Aberdare Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

The court had been told that after she packed clothes at their home in north Devon to go to stay in a hotel on June 30 last year he attacked and killed her.

En route to disposing of her body the next day he crashed his white Ford Fiesta van into a hedge.

Police officers who attended the crash site on July 1 found her body between the front seats. She had been dead for 12 hours.

A jury of four men and eight women at Exeter Crown Court took almost two days to unanimously convict Doyle of murder.

Judge Graham Cottle rejected Doyle's attempt to argue self-defence in the murder of Ms Rees, who was originally from Aberdare in South Wales, saying part of his story of what happened - claiming he had been taking her to a doctor when he crashed the next day - had been "fanciful".

"Having listened to the evidence there can be no doubt that he intended to murder her," Judge Cottle said. Talking about the crash the next day, near the town of Hatherleigh, a few miles from their home, the judge said: "There is no doubt in my mind that he was planning to dispose of the body."

He tried to present himself as a kind and loving partner to Sian, but the fact was that she received life-saving treatment for breast cancer on the same day that he killed her and I have no doubt whatsoever that in placing her body and the items he used to kill her in the vehicle was a sincere and significant effort to hide all evidence of wrongdoing.

– Acting Detective Chief Inspector Michael West