Chef admits murdering teaching assistant

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A chef pleaded guilty today to stabbing a teaching assistant to death as she walked her dogs in a park.

The body of Sally Garwood, 34, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was found on playing fields near her home by passers-by on the afternoon of July 11.

Robert Cusworth, 25, also from Aylesbury, admitted murder when he appeared at Reading Crown Court this morning.

Wearing a dark suit, Cusworth spoke only to confirm his name and address and to enter his plea.

He sat in the dock with his head bowed as Judge John Reddihough adjourned sentencing until January 29. A psychological report on him was ordered to be carried out.

The judge remanded Cusworth in custody, telling him: "You will be given the appropriate amount of credit for pleading guilty to this very serious matter.

"The sentence will be adjourned until the end of January. As you know, there is a sentence set down by law for this case.

"The only consideration will be the minimum period you will have to serve before you can be considered for parole."

Cusworth and Mrs Garwood were strangers when their paths crossed in Quarrendson playing fields, near Meadowcroft.

Mrs Garwood, who worked at the Autism Resource Base at Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxfordshire, had hoped to start a family with her husband Simon.

Members of her family watched proceedings from the public gallery today.

Paying tribute to his wife at the time of her death, Simon Garwood said: "One of the hardest things to come terms with is learning to live without seeing Sally smile.

"She was such a kind, amazingly happy person who even smiled in her sleep. I cannot believe I am spending the rest of my life without her.

"Sally will be greatly missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know her."

Members of staff at her place of work also spoke of their loss following her death, saying in a statement: "Words cannot be found at the moment to express our grief.

"We can only offer our thoughts and the memories we share. Sally was warm-hearted, caring and full of fun.

"She was courageous when facing her own problems and generous when helping others with theirs.

"Much of her life was spent helping others and we will all miss her company and support. Our sadness is beyond measure."

Aylesbury Magistrates' Court was told at a previous hearing that Cusworth had bought a kitchen knife from a local Tesco supermarket the day before the murder.

He went to the playing fields armed with the knife on July 11. The court heard Cusworth initially planned to attack a jogger, but changed his mind because the area was too busy.

He then saw Mrs Garwood and attacked her with the knife, fatally wounding her.

Cusworth then returned to his home in Levings Close, Aylesbury, from where he called police to tell them what he had done.

Members of Mrs Garwood's family were too upset to comment as they left court.

Detective Superintendent Rob Mason of Thames Valley Police, the senior investigating officer in the case, said after the brief hearing: "Sally Garwood's murder was an attack on a defenceless young woman who was walking her dog.

"She was an active member of her church and a much-liked and respected teaching assistant at Lord Williams's School in Thame."