Father of two jailed for 15 years over vice-girl murder

Paul Whitehouse A MARRIED father of two who beat a young prostitute to death and hid her body then carried on life as normal, a judge heard yesterday.

Ronald Beardmore, 31, will now spend at least 15-and-a-half years in prison after he admitted murdering drug addict Rebecca Stephenson on June 17 last year.

Ms Stephenson was beaten to death as she sat in the passenger seat of his car., Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Beardmore, of Cherry grove, Rossington, near Doncaster, concealed her body, cleaned up his bloodstained Citron Xsara car – and continued as normal.

He carried on his work as an operative at a kitchen factory and even went on holiday. Then a police investigation uncovered closed circuit TV footage of him with 19-year-old Ms Stephenson.

The film was distributed to the media and Beardmore's wife was so convinced she recognised him that she forced him to go to the police.

Even then he denied his involvement in the crime – only deciding to plead guilty as his trial was about to start.

It all left his victim's family, and police, with no explanation for what turned Beardmore from a respectable citizen into what Judge Michael Moore described as a "callous and ruthless man" one evening last June.

The court was told Beardmore had set off for a night out in Doncaster with a friend on the night Ms Stephenson died. But the pair separated and Beardmore visited a lap dancing club before being seen with the victim in Doncaster's red light zone in the Christchurch Road area.

He returned home around 4am, heavily bloodstained, and told his wife he had been in a fight. There was also staining on the exterior of his car and when he set about scrubbing the inside of the vehicle, he told a neighbour one of his children had been sick.

Ms Stephenson was reported missing by her boyfriend and her body was found dumped on land off Stripe Lane, Rossington, three weeks later, barely half a mile from Beardmore's home.

Police viewed around 100 hours of closed circuit TV footage to find the last images of Rebecca alive and the likeness of Beardmore with her was so compelling his wife and other family members forced him to confront police.

Officers were able to piece together evidence against him, including blood which matched the victim's DNA in his car. The spray patterns indicated she had been dealt at least three separate blunt blows, possibly some as she tried to flee the vehicle.

By the time she was discovered her body was badly decomposed but a forensic examination revealed broken bones, believed to have been inflicted at the time of her death.

Beardmore later returned to the scene with turf he had removed while working at a friend's garden and used it to conceal her body.

Judge Moore described Ms Stephenson, a drug addict, as a "sad and tragic woman" who had been living rough in a car.

"She may have been forgiven for thinking things could not get any worse," he told Beardmore, sentencing him to life in prison. "Then she had the misfortune to meet you as a client. "

"You took her to a dark and deserted place and brutally murdered her then hid her body, literally leaving her to rot."

Det Supt Carl Sturgess, who led the investigation, said afterwards: "I hope Ronald Beardmore will reveal to us exactly what did happen on that night. Certainly, during his time in police detention and through many interviews he never told us and denied responsibility.

"He is a very violent man and nobody knows how Rebecca suffered. He has never once shown any remorse."