Kayleigh Dunning: Partner jailed for marriage proposal murder

Kayleigh Dunning: Partner jailed for marriage proposal murder

A man who murdered his partner with a crowbar on the night he said they got engaged has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years.

Kayleigh Dunning, 32, was found dead at Mark Brandford’s flat in Kingston Crescent, Portsmouth, in December 2019.

Jurors heard he “lashed out” during his “special night” after discovering Ms Dunning had sent affectionate text messages to another man.

Brandford, 49, had denied murder but was convicted following a trial.

Judge Timothy Mousley QC told Portsmouth Crown Court Brandford showed “no emotion, let alone any remorse” for his actions.

The judge said it was “quite clear” the road sweeper intended to kill Ms Dunning when he inflicted “something in the region of 30 blows” with a crowbar and then stabbed her “at least nine times” in the neck with a knife.

Sentencing Brandford, Judge Mousley said the defendant was a “deceitful” and “manipulative” man who sought to “control others”.

“You wanted Kayleigh as a possession,” he added.

The court previously heard Ms Dunning suffered fatal and “sharp, blunt force injuries” to her head and neck on the night of 16 December.

Brandford went to work the next morning and announced the couple had got engaged, before he returned home and made a “sham” 999 call to report finding his fiancee lying in bed with “blood everywhere”, jurors were told.

The court heard the defendant previously shared “private sexual films” from Ms Dunning’s phone without her consent over a 13-month period, and set up a Facebook account in her name which showed “intimate photos” of her.

He also sent her “deeply unpleasant” messages and made her think they were from an enemy, jurors were told.

Mr Jones said the photos and messages caused Ms Dunning so much distress she needed medication for depression.

Brandford was also found guilty of previously disclosing private sexual images with intent to cause Ms Dunning distress.

Judge Mousley said Brandford’s “malice” towards Ms Dunning “became obvious long before” he killed her.

The killer will only be considered for release by the parole board after he serves his minimum term, the judge said.

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