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46-year-old woman strangled to death by partner who died before he could face trial

Lana Owen was found dead at her home in December Credit: Family photo

A 46-year-old woman was strangled to death by her partner, an inquest has heard.

Lana Owen was found dead at her home in December after her partner Philip Andrews called police telling them he had ''strangled'' her.

Police arrived at the scene in Tonypandy to find 51-year-old Andrews stood near her body and drinking from a bottle of whiskey.

An inquest at Pontypridd Coroners' Court on Monday heard Ms Owen had been seeing another man, Robert Morris, for a number of weeks before her death.

After killing her, Andrews sent Mr Morris a message through social media say, ''You won't be seeing Lana again, she's dead.''

Andrews, who had been with Ms Owen for around 17 years, was taken into custody but died in hospital from natural causes before a trial at Cardiff Crown Court could begin.

The inquest took place at Pontypridd Coroner's Court Credit: Google Maps

The inquest heard South Wales Police were unable to determine exactly what was used as a ligature but it was ''possible'' a cord of a lava lamp may have been used.

The cord was the only object found in the house which fitted with the marks found on Ms Owen's neck, the inquest heard.

Green marks were also found on Ms Owen face and green paint was found on the cord but tests carried out to see if it was the same substance were inconclusive.

On the day of the incident Mr Morris dropped off Ms Owen near her home in Miskin Road at around 11.20am and she walked the rest of the way.

Ms Owen's daughter, Casey Knowlton, was asleep in the property when she was later woken by the sound of a ''loud noise.''

A statement read to the court described her hearing ''screaming and shouting coming from the living room/kitchen.''

I would describe her screaming like an argument taking place.

I was aware of the argument for about five minutes, I then heard a loud bang and everything went quiet.

– Casey Knowlton

After falling asleep again, Ms Knowlton was woken at around 12.50pm by a female police officer who was inside the house. Andrews was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder.

During police interviews, Andrews replied no comment to most questions but spoke on one occasion when asked if he had any remorse for what he did.

''What do you want me to do?'' he replied

''Start bawling my eyes out in front of you? I feel sick as a f***ing pig.''

Andrews was due to face trial and at a pre-trial hearing it was heard there was no dispute over the facts of the case. He died from a terminal illness while in custody.

The inquest heard Ms Owen had been seeing Robert Morris for a number of weeks before she died. In a statement, Mr Morris described himself as her ''boyfriend'' and had been in relationship with Ms Owen for around six weeks.

''She had tried to tell him that their relationship was over but he just was not listening,'' he said.

''She felt it was over because it had gone stale and she did not have feelings for him.''

Ms Owen had spent the night with Mr Morris on the day before she died and they had planned to meet each other later on December 19.

In a statement read to the inquest PC Adam Bruton said Andrews was "pacing in small steps" when they arrived at the scene. He said: "He had a bottle of Jack Daniel's in his hand and he took a sip of it."

When in custody at Merthyr Tydfil police station Andrews was assessed to see if he was mentally fit to be interviewed.

During the examination Andrews said: "When I did what I did my mind was clear. I found out last Friday my partner was having an affair."

Ms Owen had been in a relationship with Andrews since the mid-2000s but her son Cory Hill said he discovered shortly before her death that she had been seeing another man. He added that he had never witnessed any signs of issues between his mother and Andrews.

Mr Hill said: "I will say that before this incident I would describe their relationship as excellent.

"I never witnessed any domestic incidents between them and this is why what happened has come as a massive shock. He had helped turn her life around."

The inquest heard Ms Owen had a background of drug use and was using the heroin substitute methadone at the time of her death.

On the day of the incident Mr Hill received a phone call from his "hysterical" sister Casey who said his mother had died.

Pathologist Dr Richard Jones, who attended the scene to find Ms Owen's body in the kitchen, told the court ligature wounds were found on her neck.

He told the inquest they were unable to find the ligature but it could have been "something thin like a cord or a cable" and it was likely done by somebody behind her.

He added the marks may have been caused by her jumper, which was high on her neck, stating that the case was "quite complicated in some senses".

Ms Owen also had a number of other small injuries including bruising on her arm and green markings on the side of her face. The cause of death was recorded as ligature pressure to the neck.

Coroner Graeme Hughes recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing.

On Wednesday, December 19, Lana Owen has been assaulted by a single assailant known to her at home at Miskin Road. The assailant applied sustained pressure with a ligature

– Coroner Graeme Hughes

He added that the "precise source" of the ligature could not be ascertained.