Infatuated man 'strangled single mum to death because she didn't love him back'

Will Taylor
Maria Howarth was found dead on her sofa, jurors at Sheffield Crown Court have bee told. (SWNS/PA)
Maria Howarth was found dead on her sofa, jurors at Sheffield Crown Court have bee told. (SWNS/PA)

A 60-year-old man told police he strangled a single mother to death because he loved her but she didn't want to be with him, a court has heard.

David Bestwick is accused of killing Maria Howarth on her sofa after walking her home.

Sheffield Crown Court was told he then called 999 and told the operator "I've just strangled my girlfriend", adding: "I loved her. She didn’t want me."

Howarth was found on the sofa unconscious by police. She had suffered an unsurvivable brain injury due to lack of oxygen after a cardiac arrest caused by pressure to her neck, jurors were told.

Bestwick denies murder.

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Bestwick denies murdering Maria Howarth, who he told officers he loved but she did not reciprocate. (SWNS)
Bestwick denies murdering Maria Howarth, who he told officers he loved but she did not reciprocate. (SWNS)

After being called by the defendant just before 4am on 6 September 2020, emergency services took her to hospital where she was pronounced dead two days later.

Bestwick had been "in love" with Howarth for three years before she died, and had been drinking with her and friends at the White Swan in Sheffield on 5 September, the court heard.

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said it seemed "common knowledge" to people in the pub that he wanted a relationship but Howarth did not.

A witness said Bestwick told him Howarth was using him and he had been annoyed.

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He walked her home at about midnight, and told police he had "ten or eleven pints of Strongbow" and that Howarth had also been drinking.

The defendant claimed they had previously been intimate and that she fell asleep on the sofa.

Bestwick said he put his arms around her to "have a kiss and cuddle" but found his hands on her neck, and while he did not mean to strangle her he felt a "red mist", the court heard.

Thyne said: “One of the things he said to the police whilst he was under arrest was, ‘Love or money isn’t it? Two reasons for murder’.”

There were no signs of a struggle and no sperm was found on Howarth's body but cellular material was found on a swab from Bestwick which could have been from attempted sex, the court heard.

The trial continues.