Killer jailed for life after stabbing veteran and mum-of-two Sarah Hassall 22 times

The body of 38-year-old Sarah Hassall, who served with the RAF and the Army, was found in a property in Pontypridd last year.

A man has been jailed for life after murdering a former servicewoman and mother-of-two just hours after meeting her on a night out.

38-year-old Sarah Hassall was murdered in his Pontypridd flat after they met in a nearby pub in October last year.

Originally from Chelmsford in Essex, Ms Hassall served with both the RAF and the Royal Engineers for 14 years before moving to Wales.

A court heard how Brian David Manship, 37, of Llys Graig Y Wion, stabbed her 22 times in a "savage and merciless attack".

He then fled the scene from a first-floor window and hid in nearby bushes for ten hours, wearing Ms Hassall's bloodied jeans.

Police officers found the body of Ms Hassall wrapped in a curtain after neighbours reported hearing screams coming from the one-bedroom flat.

When Manship was arrested he told a custody officer: "I'm glad police caught me. I can get a good night's sleep now."The pair had gone to a nightclub after first meeting at the Skinny Dog pub in Pontypridd, the court heard. They later went back to his flat.Peter Rouch, QC, defending, said: "There was a consensual sexual act between them. He then fell asleep and was awakened by Sarah looking through the draws in his cabinet."He asked what she was up to and she said she was looking for more cocaine."It led to a confrontation and an argument, name calling, which was fuelled by drink and drugs."He obviously overreacted and assaulted her. He has no recollection of doing what he did next. This was a frenzied night terror."The judge said Ms Hassall's killing was "a tragic and senseless loss of life".

The court heard how Manship had fled the scene through the first-floor window of his flat.

Speaking after her death, a tribute from Sarah's family said: "After growing up in the family home in Chelmsford, Sarah dedicated herself to 14 years of military service in both the RAF and the Royal Engineers."Her career was dominated by her commitment to mountain search and rescue – Sarah represented her units at both rock climbing competitions and competitive running."Sarah left the army in 2010 to embark on, and excel at, even greater challenges -  raising two young boys, Owain and Evan."

Husband Graham added: "Sarah was my best friend and touched many more lives along the way. We all now mourn her passing, grateful for the short time we had in her company."

Chief Inspector Mark O’shea, of the South Wales Police Major Crime Team, said: “Sarah Hassall was a young mother to two small children. She is deeply missed by them.

"She was a military veteran who took huge pride in her service to this country."

“She was brutally murdered by [Manship] in a completely unprovoked and inexplicable attack. I believe he had exploited the inherent trust she placed in all the people she met."

Manship admitted murder and was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years.