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1 February 2010, 07:35 | Updated: 1 February 2010, 07:54
A chef has been jailed for murdering a Thame teaching assistant while she was out walking her dog.
Sally Garwood, 34, who worked at the Lord Williams School in Thame, had been out in an Aylesbury park on the afternoon of Saturday 11 July 2009. Her body was found by passers-by, and paramedics were called to the Meadowcroft area of Aylesbury at 3.38pm. A post-mortem found Sally died of a stab wound to the neck.
Robert Cusworth, 25, from Levings Close in Aylesbury, has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years.
Detective Superintendentt Rob Mason, the officer who lead the murder investigation, said: "Any loss of life is a tragedy, but Sally’s death seems awful because it is so senseless. It has been a privilege to work with and on behalf of Sally’s family to bring Cusworth to justice. Only he can know why he did this."
Chief Inspector Henry Parsons, Aylesbury’s deputy commander, said: "I am pleased to hear that Cusworth has been sentenced for this brutal crime. The murder of Sally Garwood shocked Aylesbury Vale and unnecessarily took the life of a young woman. Our thoughts are with Sally’s family and we hope this will hopefully bring them some closure."
Sally's husband Simon has released the following statement through police:
“Sally was a truly wonderful person. She dedicated her whole life to serving God and helping and loving others. Every job and path since leaving school she took because she wanted to help make a difference and make things better for others, particularly children and young people. No tribute could do justice to simply the best person and friend I have ever known.
“As a family we feel that given his guilty plea and the mandatory life sentence imposed, Robert Cusworth must now take responsibility for and face the consequences of his terrible actions.
“Sally was an innocent young woman out walking her dog on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer, who had no reason to suspect what was about to happen to her.
“In some ways the conviction and sentence changes nothing for us. This brutal and cowardly act means that I, Sally’s mum and dad, her loving sisters and brother have to live every moment of every day without her and with the horrific memory of how she died.
“From a personal point of view I hope that the faith in God that Sally and I shared will one day, somehow, give me the strength to forgive, but at the moment it is difficult to put into words how devastated I am that someone could have done this to my beautiful Sally.”
David Whybron, the Headteacher at Lord Williams School in Thame, released the following statement shortly after Sally's death:
"We received desperately sad news on Sunday, that Sally Garwood, one of our teaching assistants at the Autism Resource Base, Oxford Road, was attacked in a park in Aylesbury on Saturday and died as a result of injuries received. This tragic event has deeply shocked friends, colleagues and students at school."
Members of staff at the Autism Resource Base said: "Words cannot be found at the moment to express our grief. We can only offer our thoughts and the memories we share. Sally was warm–hearted, caring and full of fun.
"She was courageous when facing her own problems and generous when helping others with theirs. Much of her life was spent helping others and we will all miss her company and support. Our sadness is beyond measure."