‘Controlling’ man found guilty of murdering estranged wife

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A jealous and controlling man who strangled his estranged wife after she refused to sleep with him “one last time” for £100 has been found guilty of murder.

Martin Cavanagh, 35, attacked 31-year-old Sophie Cavanagh then left a message on a board saying she “deserved it”.

The mother-of-two’s body was found lying naked in bed at his Bromley flat in May.

Prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC told how the couple married in 2011 but split up before the killing.

She said: “The defendant had a controlling, jealous and possessive nature throughout their relationship. He had a short fuse and would get angry quickly.”

Following their separation the couple went on family outings together and planned a holiday to Disneyland Paris but Cavanagh continued to be controlling, the court heard.

When he found out she was using the dating website Match.com, he accessed her account to sabotage her profile, the court heard.

Jurors were also shown a series of WhatsApp messages he sent her, with one offering £100 if she would sleep with him “one last time.”

Four days before the killing, he told her: “You have broken, shattered and ripped me to shreads. The list goes on.”

Mrs Cavanagh agreed to go on a trip to Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent with Cavanagh before her death.

Her body was found at the defendant’s flat the next day.

Ms Healy said: “The prosecution case is that the defendant murdered Sophie Cavanagh by strangling her. He was consumed with jealousy and unable to accept the end of their relationship.

“Having killed her it is very likely that he was not thinking straight. He wrote on the child’s white board that she deserved it.”

The court heard he went through her handbag to get her bank cards so that he could get cash out for himself in the early hours of the morning.

He also stripped his wife and put her into bed to make it look like she died in her sleep, jurors were told.

Knowing that the police were looking for him, he eventually gave himself up days later on May 24.

In his defence, Cavanagh claimed he acted only to protect himself from his wife, who had “attacked” him after they took cocaine.

“I saw that look in her eye. I knew what was coming,” Cavanagh told jurors.

He said she was hitting him so he grabbed her by the neck, and “had her for 10, 15 or maybe 20 seconds”.

“I just wanted her to stop and in the heat of the moment that’s what I did to defend myself,” he said.

The defendant shook his head as the jury found him guilty of murder as his victim’s family wept in court.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday.

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