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Man handed jail term after choking mum-of-two to death during sex

A man who choked his lover to death during consensual sex has been handed a jail term.

Sam Pybus admitted he was drunk when he took mum-of-two Sophie Moss’ life by applying “prolonged” pressure to her neck.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Sophie’s death has left her family “completely stricken with grief” while the father of her children, Daniel Parkington, admitted to being afraid of the day they discover the truth about what happened to their beloved mum, reports Chronicle Live.

Pybus originally denied the murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter after accepting carrying out the “unlawful killing” of the 33-year-old in County Durham.

The 32-year-old was handed a jail term of four year and eight months at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday.

The court was told that Pybus was a married man who had been seeing Miss Moss behind his wife’s back for three years, seeing her for sex around six times a year.

He had drunk 24 bottles of Amstel lager over a 10-hour period, and after his wife went to bed on February 6 he drove round to his lover’s flat.

At 4.43am on February 7 he then drove to Darlington police station and told staff he believed he had strangled Ms Moss in her flat.

Officers found her naked and unresponsive in bed.

Previously, the court heard that Pybus accepted he “applied hand pressure to the neck” of his lover on that fateful night.

And in a police interview, Pybus claimed he had a history of placing pressure on her neck – claiming she had encouraged and enjoyed it.

He claimed to have little recollection of the events. Wearing his boxer shorts, he recalled his hands hurting so he “must have strangled her although he did not remember doing so”.

Yet rather than try and save his lover’s life, the court was told that Pybus instead “spent about 15 minutes in his car considering his options during which time he had not sought to render first aid to Sophie nor had he sought any emergency medical assistance for her”.

A pathologist’s report found her injuries – although fatal – were at the lower end of the scale with Sophie sustaining minor bruising.

The court was told her injuries “do not suggest a very prolonged or very forceful strangulation or strangulation that was continued with resistance”.

There were no other signs of violence, nor did he have any reason to kill her.

His barrister, Sam Green QC argued it was “inconceivable” that he would have carried on the way he had if he knew of the consequences.

“We accept that from a moral perspective the defendant should have summoned immediate medical emergency assistance and does not do so. He dwells on it for some time before going to a police station. That very much is not to his credit,” says Mr Green QC.

He outlined the mitigating features include lack of conviction, premeditation and the presence of “very real remorse”.

Mr Green says Pybus has not shown the emotion of self-pity.

“It is the emotion of disgust and the difficulty living with himself for what he has done,” he said.

Sam Pybus has been sentenced at Teesside Crown Court

An earlier hearing was told Pybus “had no intention of harming her or causing injury”, while he drove to Darlington Police Station himself to alert officers to Sophie’s death.

He told officers that he believed he had fatally strangled her after being invited to her home in the early hours of that morning.

However, in a moving statement read out in court, her brother James said: “To put into words the impact the tragic death of my beloved sister Sophie has had on me and my family seems impossible.”

He described her growing up as joyous and vibrant, funny, talented and fearless “unless she saw a spider” – and that losing a sister was like losing part of himself.

He said on their last call on the Sunday before she died, he said she sounded happy.

“My sadness is too overwhelming… more than anything I miss her and I miss her love. Every day with my entire being. I would give anything to hear her laugh again,” added James.

He said their mum did everything she could to support Sophie and says she is “completely stricken with grief” and “utterly heartbroken”.

James described how their father suffers with dementia and struggles to remember one moment from the next.

Despite everything he faces, Sophie’s brother said they decided to tell him a watered down version of events and says he was “instantly traumatised” before half-forgetting and moments later remembering something was wrong and they’d have to go through it again.

“It has shook him so much it has become the only thing he has even part registered for years,” said James.

He said thinking about Sophie’s young children growing up without their mummy and inevitably one day finding out the horrifying cause of her death is extremely difficult.

“Somehow we must come to terms with never knowing the full circumstances, and being unable to continue to help her, and the fact that her troubles will remain unresolved forever,” he added.

“Perhaps the hardest thing to come to terms with, and a massive part of the impact on our family, is the suspicion that Sam Pybus’ actions were born only from a desire of self-gratification. And since her death, self interest and preservation.”

He said Sophie was an extremely lonely and vulnerable person even before the pandemic. “We will never be able to shake the belief that whatever the nature of their relationship and her role in it that she was a victim – taken advantage of and exploited.”

He said hearing politicians speak passionately and citing Sophie as an example of someone who more needs to be done to protect as a female victim suffering death at the hands of a sexual partner “only compounds their feelings of injustice”.

A statement was also read out in court by Sophie’s former partner and the father of her two children.

It said: “Soon they will discover Google and have the ability to search for whatever they want. I’ve told the boys that their mummy was really sick and in hospital unfortunately the doctors did everything they could to save her but she was too poorly. What else do I tell them?”

He said when they learn the truth that will bring questions and distrust.

And jailing him, Judge Paul Watson said: “Sophie was someone who suffered from her own disabilities and her own vulnerabilities.

“I also find that this was a case in which at the time you were voluntarily intoxicated – unable to judge the situation and perhaps to have stopped when it was obvious that you had gone too far.

“Sophie was a much-loved mother, daughter and sister and her death has devastated her entire family. The sense of loss of Sophie has been, to use her brother James’ own words for the whole family, immeasurable.”

He added: “It was, in my judgement, obviously dangerous conduct whether consensual or otherwise.”

Speaking after the hearing Detective Chief Inspector Andy Reynolds, who led the investigation, said: “This was a difficult and complex investigation, and our thoughts remain with Sophie’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“Although nothing can ever bring Sophie back, I hope today’s result will offer them some comfort and help them to come to terms with their devastating loss.”

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