Bournemouth Man Jailed For Life Girlfriend's Murder

An alcoholic, who killed his girlfriend with a sledgehammer at their Bournemouth bedsit, has been handed a life sentence.

James D'Arcy Bournemouth murder Hayley Dean

50-year-old James D'Arcy was found guilty yesterday of murdering Hayley Dean, in Derby Road in Boscombe last September.

He'll serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.

He'd claimed he couldn't remember killing her because of his alcohol addiction.

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James Augustus John D'Arcy was told he would have to spend a minimum of 20 years in prison before he would be considered to apply for parole.

D'Arcy had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denied murder claiming he could not recall committing the act as he was severely impaired as a result of the alcohol dependency syndrome he suffered from.

The jury had heard that at around 6.20pm on Friday 16 September 2016 a man drove D'Arcy to Bournemouth police station and told officers that D'Arcy had claimed he'd killed his partner by hitting her over the head with a sledgehammer.

When he was arrested on suspicion of murder, D'Arcy told officers: "I killed my girlfriend with a hammer. I smashed her head in."

Patrol officers were sent to D'Arcy's home address in Gainslea Court in Derby Road and forced entry. Inside they found Hayley's body on a mattress with a pillow over her head. A lump hammer was recovered nearby. A cigarette remained between her lips and she held a green lighter in her right hand.

A post-mortem examination found that Hayley had died as a result of severe blunt force impact head injuries. She had also sustained fractures to her skull and severe swelling to the brain. She had been subjected to a sustained attack.

The court heard that Hayley had lived in the bedsit for around six months. Three of these were alone but neighbours had seen D'Arcy at the flat with her in the months before her death. They described the relationship as "turbulent".

Evidence was read from residents of Gainslea Court who said they had heard screams and thuds coming from the flat on the evening of Thursday 15 September. The prosecution claimed that D'Arcy killed Hayley during an argument at the flat on that evening. D'Arcy told officers he had slept with her body overnight.

D'Arcy carried out a number of seemingly normal tasks such as getting onto a bus, withdrawing cash, buying food from McDonalds and topping up his mobile phone, before he told anyone about Hayley's death, the jury heard.

Sentencing D'Arcy, Judge Keith Cutler said: ``It may never be safe for you to be released from custody.''

He added: ``This was a ferocious and sustained attack. The injuries you subjected her to were truly appalling.''

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the trial that Miss Dean was hit 15 times with a lump hammer causing her severe head injuries.

Speaking after the sentencing Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Neil Phillips, of Dorset Police's Major Crime Investigation Team, said: 

"Hayley Dean was subjected to a sustained and brutal attack at the hands of her boyfriend. She was targeted as she lay helpless in her bed and experts have said she would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately due to the ferocity of the blows delivered by James D'Arcy.

"James D'Arcy will now spend a large number of years behind bars and I hope the sentence handed out by the court today will bring some comfort for Hayley's family and reassurance to the public that a dangerous offender is now off the streets."

Following her death, Miss Dean's family said in a statement released through Dorset Police: 

``Hayley was a very bubbly and funny girl who was adored by everyone she met.

``She had lots of friends and enjoyed spending time with them. She always had a smile on her face and was full of life. She is going to be very sadly missed.''

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