‘Jealous’ man who strangled estranged wife jailed for life

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A man who strangled his former wife in a fit of “pent-up jealousy” after she refused to sleep with him one last time for £100 has been jailed for at least 16 years.

Martin Cavanagh, 35, attacked Sophie Cavanagh and then left a message on a whiteboard saying she “deserved it”.

The 31-year-old’s naked body was found in bed at his flat in Bromley, south-east London, in May.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Cavanagh was found guilty of murder and was jailed for life.

Setting a minimum term of 16 years, Judge Michael Grieve QC told him: “You acted out of pent-up jealousy and resolved that if you could not have Sophie no-one else was going to.

“You caused a wholly unnecessary and tragic death of 31-year-old Sophie, much loved by her family and friends, who had most of her life before her.”

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

Although the defendant was controlling, jealous and possessive and had a “short fuse”, the couple stayed in contact.

When he found out Mrs Cavanagh 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 murder, he told her: “You have broken, shattered and ripped me to shreds. The list goes on.”

Mrs Cavanagh had agreed to go on a trip to Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent with Cavanagh after he falsely claimed he was facing jail for a robbery.

The young mother’s body was found at the defendant’s flat the next day and Cavanagh gave himself up days later.

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 whiteboard that she deserved it.”

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

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

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