Guilty

AN alcoholic drifter accused of strangling his girlfriend to death has been found guilty of murder.

Benjamin Roberts throttled Geraldine Evans in a disused St Annes stable and the next day told strangers in Blackpool: "I've killed my girlfriend."

A jury took just two hours to unanimously convict Roberts, 42, of no fixed address, of murder.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Openshaw QC described the murder as brutal and said: "I must and will pass the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. In truth you had little in common with Miss Evans apart from a history of alcoholism and a sense of rejection by society."

The trial into the death of Miss Evans of St Andrew's Road South – known as the St Annes Walker – lasted four days.

During the trial, Roberts told the court about his continuing love for Miss Evans. Although pleading not guilty to her murder, he did admit he killed her,saying voices in his head drove him to do so.

When questioned, about the incident, which happened on September 13 last year, Roberts told the court: "I loved Geraldine very much. I still love her very much.

"I know I killed her but I didn't intend to. The voices told me to but I didn't want to. I caused her death and I feel very very sorry because I love her so much."

The court was told how the couple drank three litres of vodka between them on the evening of the murder. But as they became increasingly drunk, a violent row broke out over previous partners.

Roberts claimed he strangled Miss Evans and when she collapsed he covered her with a blanket, claiming he thought she was sleeping.

Her body was found in a disused barn on land near the Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary off Queensway, St Annes.

He then fled the scene of the murder and tried to commit suicide by climbing to the top of the Big One rollercoaster. He intended to throw himself off, but his attempt was unsuccessful because he could not climb the steps.

Confess

The next day Roberts went to a town centre church to confess to a priest and later telephoned his family to let them know what he had done. He also approached random members of the public to confess to his crime.

When, two days after the attack, Miss Evans' body was found, Roberts was arrested by police, questioned in connection with the death and later charged.

Judge Openshaw said: "Roberts' admissions were not driven by remorse but were a manifestation of his personality disorder and disturbance."

Roberts was sentenced to life with an order he serve a minimum of 15 years.