A businessman has been found guilty of the kidnap and murder of a young waitress.
Anthony Clarke, 27, bundled his Polish-born ex-girlfriend, Monika Szmecht, into a van and held her hostage for more than four hours.
He then drove her to an isolated country lane where she was repeatedly stabbed and set on fire.
When she did not die, jurors at Liverpool Crown Court were told, Clarke continued the stabbing frenzy before leaving her for dead.
But the 21-year-old survived long enough to crawl 150 yards to a house and, moments before she died, named Clarke as her attacker when paramedics asked who was responsible.
Clarke, a former soldier, of Halsey Crescent, West Derby, Liverpool, had denied murder but today the 11 jurors returned a unanimous guilty verdict after five hours of deliberations.
Clarke, the owner of a tyre firm, motor garage and a taxi company in Liverpool, stood emotionless as the verdict was returned.
Mr Justice Teare told him he would be sentenced tomorrow.
As he turned towards the cells, Clarke winked at the mother of his two children, who was crying in the public gallery alongside his own mother.
Ms Szmecht's sister, Kalina Adamska, who also works as a waitress in Liverpool, was hugged by her police liaison officer.
She made no comment as she left the court.
During the four week trial, Andrew Menary QC, prosecuting, told how Clarke had ended a year-long relationship with Ms Szmecht shortly before the murder.
Mr Menary said that although Clarke had asked Ms Szmecht to leave the house they shared, which he owned, and he had moved his former partner and their children back in, he refused to allow Ms Szmecht to see other men and became jealous.
He said Clarke had been violent towards Ms Szmecht on a number of occasions and she had reported him to police.
He also said Ms Szmecht had demanded £1,000 from Clarke for her to withdraw her statement.
It was this blackmail attempt, labelled naive and out of character by Mr Menary, that led to Ms Szmecht meeting with Clarke on 11 June last year.
Clarke had told her he would pay her the money and the couple agreed to meet in the car park of a fire station near her home in Croxteth, Liverpool.
But instead Clarke forced her into his van, locked her inside a cage at the back and left her inside for four hours, with the car alarm sounding, as it was parked at his garage business.
He later drove her to Blindfoot Road, near the village of Rainford, St Helens, where the murder took place.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dale, who led the investigation, said: "Monika came to this Country in 2005 to find work. She met, and started a relationship with Clarke in 2006.
"Prior to making an intended complaint about him to police she agreed to meet with Clarke on the afternoon of 11 June.
"We do not know exactly what happened to her after that, until she turned up, seeking help in Blindfoot Road at 9pm, brutally stabbed and set alight. It was a truly brutal and tragic end to a young life.
"I would like to thank my team for their hard work in this investigation, and Monika's family for their support throughout.
"My thoughts are now with the family and I hope that the conclusion of this trial can give them a small element of closure and allow them to start the process of coming to terms with their devastating loss."Reuse content