A binman has been jailed for life for killing his girlfriend with a plastic tray during a drunken lockdown row just days after moving in with her.
Wayne Morris, 47, had been staying with Ruth, 52, at her home in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, during the first coronavirus lockdown last April.
He battered the mother-of-two to death with the plastic tray in a “ferocious” attack not long after moving in with her, but claimed he had no memory of the assault.
Morris moved her body from her kitchen to her bedroom, mopped and tidied up, then after spending a day with his daughter, went on the run to the Isle of Wight where he hid out in a tent.
The couple had been in a long-term relationship but lived separately until Morris moved in with Ruth due to the pandemic just a few days before the murder.
Morris was convicted of murder following an eight-day trial that ended on Wednesday.
At Brighton Crown Court on Thursday, he was jailed for life and told he will serve a minimum of 17 years.
Following Morris’ life sentence Ruth’s brother, Frank Brown, speaking on behalf of her family, spoke of the sorrow of her children Lauren and Arran.
He said: “My sister Ruth was taken from us in the most terrible and tragic of circumstances.
“Wayne Morris has said on several occasions during this trial that he will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life.
“He is not the only one. Lauren and Arran will have to live for the rest of their lives without a loving mother.”
Three days after her killing last April 8, family members raised the alarm as Ruth had not been seen for days.
When police arrived she was found dead in her bed, but it became clear she had been attacked in the kitchen, police said.
A post-mortem confirmed she died from severe and repeated head injuries – caused by the tray, parts of which were found in the kitchen and in a bin outside the house.
Morris had moved her body upstairs and tried to clean the kitchen, but then left the house and three days later (April 11), fled Bognor and went to the Isle of Wight with a tent to sleep rough.
Police found him and Morris was arrested by Hampshire officers in Sandown the next morning.
Frank Brown added: “My sister and I will have to live for the rest of our lives without a beloved sister.
“Our wider family will have to live for the rest of their lives without a niece, an auntie, a cousin and a Godmother. Others will have to live for the rest of their lives without a dear and close friend.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Mark O’Brien of Sussex Police described the murder as a “violent and sustained attack.”
He said: “Morris and Ruth Brown had been in a relationship for a number of years. They lived at separate addresses but Morris had moved in with Ruth, due to the pandemic, just a few days before the murder.
“On April 8 the couple were involved in an argument culminating in Morris carrying out a violent and sustained attack on Ruth, that caused serious and significant injuries and from which she died.
“Having admitted in court to killing Ruth, Morris made out that he could not remember his actions due to intoxication.
“The jury have clearly seen through this defence in returning their verdict of murder.
“My thoughts remain with the family of Ruth Brown and I thank them for their resolve throughout the investigation and trial.”