A man has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend in an 'alcohol-fuelled' fight in Reading, just weeks after she told a friend she was looking to escape the relationship.
Beth Aspey, 34, was found dead at her home in Laud Close in Coley Park on 30 April 2021.
Her boyfriend Ben Shand, 45, initially lied to police and paramedics, claiming that Ms Aspey had probably died after a fall while he had gone to the shops.
He told police that he had spent the night at Ms Aspey flat, and left the next day to go to the shop before realising he had forgotten a key.
He said that when he returned there was no answer, climbed through the bedroom window and discovered his girlfriend's body.
Months after being charged with his girlfriend’s murder, Shand admitted that his story about leaving the flat was untrue.
Texts recovered from Ms Aspey’s phone suggest she wanted her independence and wanted Shand to move out as soon as possible. Shand was staying in his girlfriend’s flat while his own home was being renovated.
During the trial the court found there was no scientific evidence to suggest a different attacker was in the bathroom at the time of the assault.
Post-mortem evidence presented by prosecutors showed that Ms Aspey had multiple injuries consistent with a sustained assault, including being repeatedly hit on the head with a weapon.
The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem confirmed Ms Aspey could not have obtained her injuries just by falling, as previously suggested by Shand.
On Friday (17 December) a jury found Shand guilty of murder.
Lawyer Victoria Forbes of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “A young woman tragically lost her life to a senseless act of violence, while her killer made deliberate attempts to cover his tracks.
“We are pleased to see that the strength of the evidence we presented has led to a successful prosecution. We hope this verdict will bring a sense of justice to Beth’s loved ones, even though it cannot undo the heart-breaking loss they have suffered."
Ben Shand will be sentenced on Monday (20 December) at Reading Crown Court.