Sentence of Darlington man who killed lover during sex referred to Court of Appeal

The jail term given to a man who choked his lover to death during sex in Darlington could be extended for being "unduly lenient" after it was referred to the Court of Appeal.

The Attorney General has referred Sam Pybus's sentence of four years and eight months to the Court of Appeal.

Pybus, 32, was jailed earlier this month for the manslaughter of Sophie Moss, a vulnerable 33-year-old mother of two.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Pybus was drunk when he applied pressure to her neck for tens of seconds or even minutes at her flat in Darlington in February.

Sophie Moss

A spokesman from the Attorney General's Office said: "I can confirm that the Attorney General has referred Sam Pybus's sentence to the Court of Appeal as she agrees that it appears unduly lenient.

"It is now for the court to decide whether to increase the sentence."

Judge Paul Watson QC jailed Pybus for four years and eight months, having reduced the sentence from seven years after giving credit for his early guilty plea to manslaughter.

Pybus woke up and found Ms Moss naked and unresponsive but did not dial 999, waiting in his car for 15 minutes before driving to a police station to raise the alarm, the court heard.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had applied enough pressure to her neck for long enough to kill. There was no evidence of any other injuries or violence.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was not sufficient evidence to support a charge of murder as there was nothing to suggest he intended to kill her or cause serious harm.

Married Pybus told police he and Ms Moss had been in a casual relationship for three years, and that she encouraged him to strangle her duringconsensual sex.

The court heard Ms Moss's long-term partner, not named in court, said likewise.

Pybus' ex-wife, Louise Pybus, has spoken out against her former husband.

The referral comes after Labour's Harriet Harman, who chairs Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights, wrote to the Attorney General to complain about the "unduly lenient" sentence.