15 years for drunk who strangled lover with dog lead

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The Independent Online

A drunk who strangled his girlfriend with a dog lead before putting her body in bed and going to sleep next to it was told today he must serve at least 15 years in prison.

A judge heard how Richard Payne, 29, attacked Amanda Hartley, 34, at their home in Leeds in May.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said the pair had a volatile relationship punctuated by violence.

In the early hours of 11 May this year Payne had drunk enough cider to be four-and-half times the limit for driving and had also taken cannabis and amphetamines.

Mr Sharp said he hit Ms Hartley during a drunken a rage and then took the dog lead belonging to her dog, Bullseye.

Payne put the lead around her neck and throttled her for two to three minutes, the court heard.

The judge was told how the defendant then made an attempt to clean up Ms Hartley's body before putting it in bed, climbing in beside and going to sleep.

In the morning, according to Mr Sharp, Payne continued to act with a "disturbing degree of nonchalance" including chatting to a shopkeeper while buying cigarettes and going for a walk.

When someone came to his door to return 50p to him, he told them: "I could do with a beer."

He asked one friend who came round if he would help him take the body to another house and set fire to the building to destroy evidence.

The friend refused and eventually went to the police.

The court heard Payne, of Bismarck Drive, Beeston, Leeds, was not suffering from a mental illness but did have a personality disorder.

He has a long history of violence and alcohol abuse.

Payne pleaded guilty to murder today.

Sentencing him to life in prison, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said: "You are clearly a dangerous man".

He said Payne must serve a minimum of 15 years before he is considered for parole.

The defendant, who has glasses, a beard and a shaved head, showed no emotion as he stood in the dock wearing a brown, polo-neck jumper.