A boyfriend battered a mum-of-three to death, placed a cuddly toy beside her body and then went to buy some drugs, a court heard.
Kevin Ashton claimed girlfriend Helen Joy had caused 121 injuries to herself as she was hallucinating and kept banging her head into walls at their flat.
When officers discovered her body they found the mum-of-three dead on a mattress, with a brown squirrel cuddly toy, a bottle of Frosty Jack’s cider and a picture of her former pet dog in her hands, reports Liverpool Echo.
The horrific list of injuries she sustained included: a bleed on the brain, broken nose and neck bones, 14 broken ribs and shearing of her scalp and upper gum away from her skull and jaw respectively.
Two or three days after Ashton battered his 54-year-old partner to death, he drove to meet his dad, Brian, who he told: “Helen’s dead.”
But the 45-year-old admitted he hadn’t told officers yet before his father did “the right thing” and called the police.
A five-day murder trial heard Ashton probably killed Helen at the couple’s flat on Friday, January 29 or Saturday, January 30, before going to buy cannabis on Sunday.
Once there, he told his cannabis dealer “The Mrs is dead” but ignored his advice to call the police or an ambulance.
Police arrested Ashton at his mum Linda Ashton’s home in Widnes at midday on February 1, where they found him drinking alcohol from a mug.
He later moaned: “My f***ing bird is dead, and I’m getting the blame for it now.”
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court took just two hours and 23 minutes to see through his lies to unanimously convict of him of murder.
Members of Ms Joy’s family broke down in tears of relief and hugged each other when the guilty verdict was returned.
Ashton, who clasped hearing aid headphones to his ears, showed no emotion.
However, when his sentencing was adjourned he swaggered out of the dock and gave a two-finger ‘peace’ sign to his mum and sister.
During the trial, jurors heard he had three previous convictions for common assault against Helen, in 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Ashton claimed Helen caused the injuries to herself and he tried to stop her, before insisting during a series of interviews that she had been falling over for about two years, including 10 to 15 times in the last two months.
He told police the squirrel and the dog photo “meant everything to her”, but accepted: “It looks dead dodgy now.”
David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, said: “Helen Joy had literally been battered to death by Kevin Ashton. The man who shakes his head in the dock today.”
A Home Office pathologist said some of Helen’s injuries could relate to falling, but overall the pattern indicated a “violent, recent and life-threatening blunt force assault, which involved blows to her head and also to her neck”.
Dr Paul Johnson found the cause of death was “multiple injuries with terminal hypothermia”.
Mr McLachan suggested Ashton was responsible for a series of attacks in the days and hours leading up to Helen’s death.
He said: “And what did he do about it, as she was so poorly, lying on the floor injured? What did he do? Simply, he did nothing.”
Ashton told the jury that when he discovered Helen’s body, he just “hugged her and cried”, before he went to buy cannabis.
He claimed he put her to bed with a duvet over her and the items next to her body because “I wasn’t leaving her on the floor like nothing”.
Ashton said Helen was the “best thing in my life” and he remained in love with her, before denying Mr McLachlan’s suggestion that he had “bullied her”.
Judge Brian Cummings, QC, said Ashton will be sentenced on November 12 and remanded him in custody until that date.