Man who strangled partner then claimed she suddenly 'went limp' during sex is jailed for murder

Robert Simpson-Scott couldn't explain how Sally Cavender ended up with fractured spine, broken ribs and hypoxia brain injury

Colin Drury
Thursday 27 June 2019 20:07
Robert Simpson-Scott
Robert Simpson-Scott

A man who strangled his partner then tried to claim she had suddenly "gone limp" during sex has been jailed for 18 years for her murder.

Robert Simpson-Scott killed Sally Cavender following a drunken row at his home in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.

The 44-year-old initially told police that his partner of 15 years had lost consciousness as they had sex.

But doctors cast doubt on his version of events after finding Ms Cavender, 55, had suffered a fractured spine, broken ribs, hypoxia brain injury and bruising to her face, neck and arms before her death.

Jailing him at the Old Bailey on Thursday after a jury earlier found him guilty of murder, Justice Parmjit Cheema-Grubb said of the victim: "She would have known she was being strangled to death by someone she loved. It was a terrible way to die."

Simpson-Scott had himself called police at 11pm on 4 December last year saying: “She's dead, she's gone, I've killed my wife.”

But, after being arrested, he first claimed Ms Cavender, of Sawston, also Cambridgeshire, had died while in bed together and then said he could not remember what had happened.

He told police that they both had alcohol problems but the relationship had never been violent.

The court heard he may have lost his temper after cutting his foot on a broken wine glass. It was also told that Ms Cavender's mother, who was herself dying, had to be told her daughter had been murdered just hours before she herself passed away.

Justice Cheema-Grubb said: “The jury was sure you strangled Ms Cavender intending to kill her or cause her really serious bodily harm.

"You acted with an intention to kill - it was no doubt a short-lived intention and you panicked when you realised you really had killed her, but there can be no mitigation in your case of a lack of intention.

"You've robbed Sally's family of a beloved child, sister and auntie. You killed her at a time when you knew her own mother was dying and had to be told of her first-born daughter's death while she was on her death bed."

Anthony Metzer QC, defending Simpson-Scott, said the attack was an "isolated incident" and had not taken place in a context of domestic violence.

Mr Metzer said: "He's experienced some tragedy in his personal life - his father died subsequent to his arrest and (the court) may know of his attempted suicide before his trial.

"People are complicated, even people convicted of murder, and nobody but the defendant knows what happened on that night.

"But he will have to live with the fact he killed his long-term partner - murdered his partner - but he loved her and he will retain the guilt for having taken her life.

"He's acted in the most terrible way and brought about this tragedy himself."

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In a statement, Ms Cavender's brother Nick said: "Sally was a bright and bubbly person but she also lacked self-confidence and battled with alcohol dependency for many years.

"While that led her to make very poor decisions about her lifestyle and choice of partner, she was a very vulnerable person and no-one deserves to have their life ended in the way that hers was.”

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