Ex-partner jailed for murdering disabled Bigglesade mum-of-three whose body was hidden in suitcase

Sarah Albone was found dead at her home in February 2023.
Credit: Bedfordshire Police/Family photo
Sarah Albone was murdered by her on-off partner Matthew Waddell. Credit: Family photo/Bedfordshire Police

A man who killed his former partner, hid her body in a suitcase and threw it in a wheelie bin has been jailed for life.

Matthew Waddell, 35, taped up the bin where he'd dumped the remains of Sarah Albone and told her family and friends she was in hospital.

Luton Crown Court heard the 38-year-old victim, who had multiple sclerosis, had been killed in a "frenzied and horrific attack" at her home at Winston Crescent, in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire when she tried to leave him.

The suitcase was finally found on 25 February, three months after mother-of-three Ms Albone was last seen.

In the meantime, Waddell sent text messages from her mobile phone, used her bank cards and sold her belongings to "throw family, friends and the police off the scent", the court heard.

Waddell initially denied murdering the mother-of-three at her home in Winston Crescent, Biggleswade between 20 November last year and 26 February, but was convicted by the jury.

Matthew Waddell will be sentenced on Thursday. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew said officers found the purple suitcase wrapped in industrial cling film under the remains of a carpet in the bin. She was found in her pyjamas in the foetal position.

In the witness box Waddell, who is about 5ft 10ins tall, said he had snapped after suffering "years of abuse" from 5ft 1in-tall Ms Albone.He told the jury: "It was like a curtain came down. It is a feeling like you would not believe. You literally go numb. You stop feeling."

But prosecutors told the court that her family had become worried for Ms Albone because of the "toxic" nature of her relationship with Waddell.

She was last seen in November and over the following months Waddell began to imitate her in text messages to friends and family, to cover up her disappearance, even asking for money.

A friend received messages from someone purporting to be Ms Albone, claiming to be in hospital and asking for cash - but suspected that something was wrong because of the grammar and language used in the messages.

Ms Albone was reported missing on 21 February, with Waddell telling police officers that she was in hospital - though medical records did not match up.

Shortly after officers had left, they received a message supposedly from Ms Albone claiming to be safe and well, which they traced to her home in Winston Crescent.

Officers searched the house, finding blood stains inside and areas where carpet had been removed as Waddell tried to cover his tracks. When cadaver dogs were brought in, Ms Albone's body was located.

An evidence tent was set up in the back garden of the property in Winston Crescent. Credit: ITV News Anglia

At the sentencing today, Ms Albones sister, Nikita Clayton, said their "lives as they knew it had changed", and that she felt like her sister had been "disposed of like a piece of rubbish."

Ms Clayton broke down in court as she spoke of Albones three children.

She ended saying her sister's death was a "mindless, cowardly act" as she looked up to see Mr Waddell behind the glass.

Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew read a statement on behalf of Ms Albone's mother, Paula Minnis.

She said it had destroyed their lives "in the most horrendous and callous way" and that she was "outraged that her grandchildren's mother was stolen from them".

After the sentencing, Ms Albone's family issued a statement through Suffolk police.

In it, they said: "Sarah was a beautiful ray of sunshine in all our lives, always bright, sweet and full of life. Sarah touched so many lives with her kind heart and beautiful smile, which would light up any room as soon as she walked in.

"Sarah had a love for singing, with such a passion for music. Sarah loved walking in the sunshine with her dog, Darla, but most of all loved and adored her three amazing children.

"She would do anything to help anyone. Sarah was incredibly selfless and would always put others before herself, no matter what she was going through in her own life. This is what made Sarah the special person we all love, adore and now miss so much.

"While today is hugely sad for all of us, we are determined to ensure a difference comes from this tragedy and that Sarah leaves a positive legacy.

"If there is any woman out there living in fear of their partner, please come forward and report it. If you are worried about someone you know, please come forward and report it.

"The police and a whole host of other brilliant charities and local support services are all committed to keeping victims safe from domestic violence and abuse.

"Our plea to people is to please reach out for help when you can, as we would want no other family to have to go through what we have.

"We love and miss you Sarah, always in our hearts, forever and always.Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...