‘Controlling’ man who murdered partner who wanted to leave him jailed after failed cover-up
A man who murdered his partner as she tried to leave him and attempted to cover it up has been jailed for life.
Garry Bennett, 37, killed 30-year-old Madison Wright, then sent a message on her phone to suggest she had gone away.
Her body was found “covered in a pile of shrubs and branches and a fence panel” in Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea, Essex, on 30 July last year, eight days after she was last seen.
In the time before detectives uncovered Ms Wright’s body, Bennett took the necklace she was wearing and sold it to a pawnbroker.
Bennett, of Caister Drive, Pitsea, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday after a trial at Basildon Crown Court.
He was sentenced there on Wednesday to life in prison with a minimum term of 21 years.
Handing down the sentence, Judge Samantha Leigh said: “What you did was unspeakable – you snuffed out the life of a woman you had been at pains to say was your world, who you loved.
“She had the courage to say she was leaving you. Your attitude in my view was ‘if I can’t have you, no one can’.”
The jury reached a guilty verdict in Bennett’s trial after four hours of deliberation. As their decision was announced, Bennett screamed “how f***ing dare you” from the dock.
In a tribute released after her death, Ms Wright’s family described her as the “most loving” daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend and soon-to-be aunt.”
They added: “Her life has been stolen from not just her but from all of us. Her memory however will live on through her son whom we cherish dearly.”
Bennett’s trial heard how Ms Wright - who worked as a cleaner - was seen on an automatic number plate recognition camera approaching her partner’s house on 22 July, the last day she was seen alive.
She earlier went to a client’s house for a job, where she was booked from 9am to 11am, prosecutor Tracy Ayling KC told jurors as she opened the case earlier this month.
That morning she had texted Bennett to say “you’re too controlling”. She also wrote: “I’ve not been happy for ages – we’ve had lots of chances to try to make it work but I just don’t think it is.”
The prosecutor said Bennett missed an NHS appointment at 11.10am that day. The court heard Ms Wright was still in contact with her ex-husband while she was in a relationship with Bennett.
Ms Ayling said that at 12.57pm Ms Wright’s phone sent a message to him to say “some stuff has come up at my place that I need to sort out, sorry”.
Detectives spotted that the text apparently sent by Ms Wright was so different from her usual style that they suspected it had been sent by Bennett.
Ms Ayling said: ”It’s the crown’s case [Bennett] had already killed her and was sending these text messages himself.”
After killing Ms Wright, the prosecutor said, Bennett went to a pawnbroker’s shop in Grays, Essex and sold a necklace that she was wearing that day for £310.
Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, head of major crime at Essex Police, said after the sentencing: “Garry Bennett is a schemer, a liar and a murderer.”
He said Bennett was “too cowardly to ever admit what he had done” and that “we cannot imagine the pain” Ms Wright’s family are going through.