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Man gets 27 years for woodlands murder

The mother of an economics graduate has said she can never forgive her daughter's murderer for destroying the lives of so many when he battered the 25-year-old to death in woodland as she walked home from work.

Penny Ning was not in court as the judge sentenced David Simmonds to serve a minimum of 27 years and 213 days for the murder of Jia Ashton, whose body was found in Sleetmoor Woods, near Somercotes in Derbyshire, on 13 March, three days after she disappeared.

In a letter to the judge at Nottingham Crown Court, Ms Ning, who has returned to China, apologised for not being at the hearing but said the pain was just "too great". She said her life and that of her daughter's husband Matthew had been destroyed by Simmonds. "He killed my hopes, my dreams and my future. All of my joy in life died with my darling daughter," she said. She would never be able to forgive Simmonds as she could not understand why he did "this terrible thing".