A jilted lover who strangled his ex-girlfriend to death as she was preparing to start a new life with another man has been jailed for life.
James Gray murdered his former lover, mother-of-two Jade Watson, in a caravan at the back of his family home in November last year.
Bradford Crown Court heard how Gray, aged 25, a sales assistant who had worked in Afghanistan in a civilian role supporting the Army, summoned her to his mother’s address for a “private talk” after seeing a photo of the chip shop worker with another man on the social network site, Facebook.
He then throttled her with his hands and hit her over the head with a bike lock after they got into a row over her new love.
Gray was told yesterday that he must spend a minimum of 15 years behind bars after being convicted of her murder. Mr Justice Globe said: “By your actions you have prematurely and unnecessarily ended the life of a young mother and caused a devastating loss to all of those close to her.”
A week-long trial detailed the turbulent relationship between Gray and Miss Watson, who first met when they were teenagers.
She had two children – son Jacob and daughter Ella – with another man but the relationship broke down in 2012 and she began seeing Gray again.
The pair split up but text messages showed they were still meeting by arrangement.
Following Gray’s conviction, Miss Watson’s older sister, Becki, aged 25, paid tribute to the loving mother who “had many friends and her whole life ahead of her”.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ridley, senior investigating officer at West Yorkshire Police, said: “This was a very sad case, but the important thing for Jade’s family is that they now have justice.
“Jade was much loved by her children, her family and her friends, and we hope that the conviction of James Gray will help to give them some comfort.”