Man jailed for minimum of 20 years for ‘brutal’ murder of ex-RAF servicewoman

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A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the “brutal” murder of a former RAF servicewoman, police said.

Brian Manship, 38, lured mother-of-two Sarah Hassall to his flat after they met in a pub before stabbing her 22 times in an unprovoked attack.

Ms Hassall, also 38, was found wrapped up in a curtain after concerned neighbours called the police and forced entry to the flat while Manship managed to escape by jumping out of a first-floor window.

Firearms officers found him hours later hiding in undergrowth near his flat in Llys Graig Y Wion, Pontypridd, South Wales.

Brian Manship was jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years for the murder of Sarah Hassall (SWP/PA)

Ms Hassall had previously served with both the RAF and the Royal Engineers for 14 years, and was living in Wales having grown up in Chelmsford, Essex, having left the army in 2010 to raise her two young boys, Owain and Evan.

South Wales Police said she had met Manship in Pontypridd town centre in the early hours of Sunday, October 6 last year before she was “lured” to his flat and “brutally murdered”.

Chief Inspector Mark O’Shea described Manship as a “danger to society and to women in particular”.

He said: “Sarah Hassall was a young mother to two small children. She is deeply missed by them. She was a military veteran who took huge pride in her service to this country.

“She was a much-loved wife, daughter and sister, as well as a friend to many people. I have spoken with those that knew her and the grief they feel is palpable and powerful. This is indicative of the huge loss felt by the many people who loved her.

“On the 6th of October last year she was lured to Manship’s flat and killed in the most dreadful way. The investigation and court proceedings have shown Manship to be a self-serving individual who is clearly a danger to society and to women in particular.

“She was brutally murdered by him in a completely unprovoked and inexplicable attack. I believe he had exploited the inherent trust she placed in all the people she met.

“Sarah loved meeting new people, experiencing adventures and was someone who felt life was something to be lived to the fullest. She had a bright future and was looking forward to raising her children to be as adventurous as she was.”

In tribute after her death, Ms Hassall’s family said: “Her career was dominated by her commitment to mountain search and rescue – Sarah represented her units at both rock climbing competitions and competitive running.

“Sarah left the Army in 2010 to embark on, and excel at, even greater challenges, raising two young boys, Owain and Evan.

“Sarah was my best friend and touched many more lives along the way.

“We all now mourn her passing, grateful for the short time we had in her company.”

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