Paul Dyson, who has a history of domestic violence, killed Joanne Nelson after an argument over domestic chores. After strangling her, he wrapped her body in bin liners and buried it in woods near Malton, North Yorkshire, 35 miles from the home they shared in Hull.
Dyson faces life in prison after pleading guilty to murder in a three-minute hearing at Hull Crown Court yesterday. He admitted manslaughter at a previous hearing, but changed his plea yesterday, which was to be the first day of the murder trial.
Paul Worsley QC, for the prosecution, asked Judge Tom Cracknell to adjourn the case until today for sentencing.
Miss Nelson's parents, Charlie and Jean, wept throughout his appearance, and there was a muffled cry of "yes" from the packed public gallery as he entered his plea.
Miss Nelson's disappearance prompted the biggest search ever by Humberside Police. Five weeks after she disappeared, her body was found by the officer leading the inquiry.
Dyson, 30, a wood machinist and brown belt kick boxer, had also attacked his ex-wife, Jenny Clark, and on one occasion rendered her unconscious by throttling her - which he repeated with fatal consequences on Miss Nelson. His marriage to Ms Clark ended after less than 18 months in 2001 because of his violence.
Dyson met Miss Nelson, a Jobcentre worker, when he was working as a doorman in bars and clubs in Hull. She was said to have been impressed by his tall stature and doorman's suit. They planned to marry next year. Miss Nelson wanted a honeymoon in Mexico.
As individuals they were worlds apart. Miss Nelson wanted to travel and had many friends and interests. Dyson left school with no qualifications and had a number of low-paid jobs including one as a gardener.
There were also battles over domestic chores, and matters seem to have come to a head on the weekend of 12-13 February over a pile washing. Dyson has failed to explain fully to police what happened, but it is thought Miss Nelson asked him to help around the house and challenged him to put on a load of washing. Unable to carry out the task, he lost his temper and killed her on 13 February, then used her Vauxhall Nova to remove her body. After placing it in a shallow grave, he pleaded for help in finding her during a televised press conference on 16 February, and created the pretence that the couple had exchanged valentine's cards before he left for work on St Valentine's Day; the day he reported her missing.
Though Dyson wept as he made his appeal, his choice of words was curious. "I just pray she is all right. There is no way I would do anything to harm her and I don't know anyone who had a grudge." He said he had tried to call her mobile after she vanished.
Dyson's father, Peter, who has since died, was jailed in 1967 for six years for the manslaughter of a love rival at Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Aged 22, he stabbed John Dickinson, also 22, with a kitchen knife during a fight over Mr Dickinson's friendship with his wife. As a boy, Dyson wanted to travel like his father, who had worked in Saudi Arabia in various jobs, including doorwork. "His background explains a lot. Dyson hero-worshipped his father," a police source said.
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