Murdered girlfriend had shirt stuffed into mouth
Monday 13 September 2010
A 29-year-old man who suffocated his girlfriend by stuffing a shirt into her mouth after a "massive argument" was jailed for life today.
Rui Borges was told he must serve at least 17 years behind bars after being found guilty of the murder of Maria Coelho by a 10-2 majority.
Borges, originally from Portugal, had admitted manslaughter but claimed Ms Coelho provoked him by taunting him about his unhappy childhood.
He waited half an hour after the killing before calling 999 and later told police: "We had a massive argument. I lost the plot and I just attacked her."
The lifeless body of 37-year-old Ms Coelho was found in March on the floor of her bedroom in Stepney, east London with blood on her face, the Old Bailey heard.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: "The post-mortem examination of the victim's body was to reveal that she had been beaten, overpowered and then she had had a shirt forced into her mouth until she was asphyxiated.
"She was therefore not killed by a single blow or during a brief loss of temper - she was killed in a far more controlled way and she died after a prolonged and sustained attack.
"This defendant must literally have held his girlfriend down, forcing the shirt into her mouth until her desperate struggle for life subsided and she died."
Borges later claimed that, on the day of the killing in March, Ms Coelho had made reference to "an aspect of his unhappy childhood", said Mr Laidlaw.
The court heard that he would become upset if anyone mentioned that he had "effectively been abandoned by his mother".
Borges met Ms Coelho, also from Portugal, after he moved to Britain in 2003 and found work at a Bernard Matthews factory in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
During their "volatile" relationship Borges was three times convicted of assaulting her and Judge Stephen Kramer said she must also have been left "terrified" on the two occasions last year when he smashed up their flat.
The judge added: "The attack on her in March this year was deliberate and must have been sustained.
"She fought back and tried to remove the gag from you forced into her mouth, scratching herself in that struggle.
"It was not an instant death. It must have been a painful one.
"You delayed phoning 999 for about half an hour by which time you must have known she was dead."
RideLondon 2015: Cyclist dies while climbing highest hill in Surrey during sportive
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
Tensions flare as Confederate flag supporter reaches for gun when confronted by protests – in pictures
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
- 1 Video shows how to turn your phone into a 3D hologram
- 2 Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
- 3 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros