A bouncer who battered and strangled his girlfriend to death before driving around with her body in the boot of his car for TWO days has been jailed for life.
Aaron Mann, 33, throttled pretty Claire O’Connor, 38, at the home they shared before attempting to hide the body following a New Year’s Eve party.
Claire’s body was found wrapped in a sleeping bag in the boot of her Ford Focus in Nuneaton, Warks., on January 2 last year.
Mann dumped the mum-of-four’s body in the car and drove it around for two days before parking it outside his parents’ home and telling them what he had done.
He told a court ‘voices in his head’ told him to kill his lover and he denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
But on Thursday following a week-long trial he was found guilty of murder after a court heard he had previously sent chilling death threats telling Claire: “You ain’t going to be around for long” and “I will kill you.”
Today he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Warwick Crown Court and told he must service a minimum of 16 years.
Detective Chief Inspector James Essex, from Warwickshire Police. said after the case: “I am very pleased with today’s result.
“This has been a particularly difficult trial for Claire’s family and friends.
“Unfortunately domestic abuse is largely a hidden crime that all too often takes place behind closed doors.
‘Often no one other than those directly involved, know it is taking place.
“Sadly it is too late for Claire, but I am urging anyone who suffers from domestic abuse, in whatever form, be it physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional, to seek help from the police or other support agencies.
“The message to anyone affected by domestic abuse is that you do not have to put up with the abuse and you don’t have to cope on your own.
“There are people who can help, people who can listen and who can provide you with support.”
After the case Claire’s heartbroken parents Graham and Patricia Griffiths issued a statement through police.
They said: “We would like to thank the jury, who have seen through the lies and deceit of Aaron Mann in his attempt to minimise his responsibility for the brutal murder of our daughter Claire.
“We have no doubt that Aaron Mann was guilty of the savage and brutal murder of our daughter, and that he knew exactly what he was doing.
“His suggestion that “voices told him to do it”, were in our opinion completely fabricated.
“Claire had decided to split up from Mann, but she was murdered before she had a chance to leave him.
“We have had to live with the terrible consequence of Mann’s murder of our daughter, the details of which have been both shocking and graphic.
“At no stage has Mann shown any remorse whatsoever and his account of how he murdered Claire is quite the worst thing any parent could possibly imagine.
“At least we now know that while he is in prison other parents can know that their daughters will not be exposed to this evil killer.”
Her son Daniel wrote on Facebook following Thursday’s verdict: “It’s a result but don’t bring her back. Rot in hell!”
The court heard throughout the trial how Mann was driven to jealousy after seeing her socialising with other people and she had told him their relationship was over.
Mark Wall QC, prosecuting, said the attack occurred on January 1 after the pair returned from local pub the Green Bear, near their home in Church Road, Nuneaton.
Mr Wall said: “They returned home at around 12.30am and Mann killed Claire by applying such force to her neck as to asphyxiate her.
“A pathologist found other injuries as a result of the attack, including a broken jaw and two broken ribs.
“There can be no doubt that what Mann did was a significant attack, which was intended to either kill her or cause her very serious injury.”
Mr Wall added the pair’s relationship“had not run smooth” and that the previous spring Claire had gone to the police to report violence and threats against her by Mann.
Giving evidence to the court himself, Mann – who had already admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility – demonstrated how he had gripped her neck and put a pillow over her face.
He added: “The voices told me to finish her off.”
Prosecution psychiatrists dismissed Mann’s claims he had an acute psychotic illness – but instead had been perfectly “rational” and careful in trying to cover his tracks.
Medical records which included frequent visits to doctors and psychiatrists since 2009 had made no mention of hearing voices.