A killer who ‘mercilessly’ stabbed a mother-of-two to death while she screamed and pleaded for her life for over an hour has been jailed for life.
Brian David Manship will serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars after admitting the killing of 38-year-old Sarah Hassall.
A court heard how he stabbed his victim 22 times in his home after meeting her hours earlier in a pub.
When he was done he wrapped her body in a curtain and fled to the woods were he hid for ten hours, wearing his victim’s jeans.
Originally from Chelmsford in Essex, Ms Hassell served with both the RAF and the Royal Engineers for 14 years before moving to Wales.
Prosecutor Andrew Jones told the court Manship, aged 37, of Llys Graig Y Wion, Pontypridd carried out a “savage, sustained and merciless” attack, where he stabbed her 22 times to her upper body in the first floor flat.
He then wrapped her body up in a curtain and escaped through a first floor window. He was found by armed police officers ten hours after he murdered her.
The court heard how the pair had met in the Skinny Dog pub while both on a night out.
Defence solicitor Peter Rouch QC told the court the defendant was later awakened by Sarah looking through the drawers in his cabinet.
He asked what she was up to and she said she was looking for more cocaine. It was at that point a row broke out.
The court heard that at around 7.45am a neighbour could hear crashing and smashing and her saying “get off me, leave me alone”.
He saw her from a window looking distressed and disheveled and injured, mouthing the words “help me”.
Police were unable to gain access to the flat until 8.54am when she was found fatally injured.
When he was finally caught the killer told a custody officer: “I’m quite pleased police caught me, I can get a good night sleep now.”
A victim impact statement prepared by Ms Hassall’s husband, Graham Hassall, and read out in court said: “Not only did you exploit a vulnerable person, you went on to kill her in the most horrible way possible, in a protracted and fear inducing manner.
“I have no doubt her last thought was her very young children she left behind. The time of writing this is the eve of our son’s 9th birthday. He cried for her wearing her coat which shows her diminutive size.”
Peter Rouch QC said his client was “deeply remorseful and sorry” for his actions.
In a statement the killer said: “There is not a day goes by I don’t think of what I did.
“I will have to live with the guilt for the rest of my life. I can only imagine what Sarah’s family must be going through.
“I wish I could go back and change it, but I can’t and it sickens me.”
Giving his closing remarks upon sentence, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Sarah Hassall was 38 years old when she was murdered. She was a much loved mother, sister and wife.
“Sadly she found it difficult to adapt to civilization after leaving the army. She turned to drink as a way of dealing with her issues and her life spiralled downwards.
“She had been subject to a sustained assault throughout various rooms of the flat.
“You began hitting her repeatedly with your fists and thereafter used two separate knives.
“You inflicted 22 stab wounds and seven slash wounds.
“I have no doubt you intended to kill Ms Hassall.”
Judge Thomas described the murder as a “tragic and senseless loss of life”.
He sentenced Manship to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 20 years in prison.
Chief Inspector Mark O’Shea 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.”