COUNTY NEWS: Man found guilty of murdering young Sussex mum

Paul Withers was found guilty of murdering Lauren Masters SUS-160725-170134001

Paul Withers was found guilty of murdering Lauren Masters SUS-160725-170134001

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The ex-partner of a young Sussex mum has today been convicted of her murder (Monday, July 25).

On August 28, 2015 at about 1.30pm, police received a 999 call from a woman called Lauren begging for help saying she was going to die after being stabbed numerous times in her flat in Sutherland Avenue, Bexhill.

Lauren Masters. SUS-150209-154350001

Lauren Masters. SUS-150209-154350001

As officers were responding, police received another 999 call from a man, who gave a fake name, reporting a disturbance at the same flat saying he could hear screaming. That man was in fact Paul Withers who had stabbed Lauren Masters 23 times with a knife during a row in her kitchen. Their two young children were nearby.

The first officers to arrive in the flat found the 20-year-old mum on the kitchen floor with numerous stab wounds to her face and body. Despite efforts by paramedics and a surgeon flown in by air ambulance, Lauren tragically died at the scene.

Meanwhile Withers, 22, of Davis Close, Bexhill, rang his cousin saying ‘I have killed her’. His cousin dialled 999 and called for emergency services to go to the flat before calling Withers’ mother.

Withers then ran to his cousin’s flat in Glovers Lane, Bexhill, where he changed his clothes after dumping his blood-stained clothing in a bag at the back of the property. Afterwards he made his way to another family member’s flat in Buckholt Lane where again he changed his clothing.

The journey Withers took after murdering Lauren. Photo by Sussex Police SUS-160725-170656001

The journey Withers took after murdering Lauren. Photo by Sussex Police SUS-160725-170656001

Police arrested him nearby at 3.50pm on suspicion of murder.

The trial at Hove Crown Court heard that Lauren had told Withers on August 1 that she no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him. Withers was furious but despite their acrimonious relationship, they continued to see each for the sake of their two children.

On that fateful day, they had taken the children to Hastings to buy them shoes. But when they returned home they argued and Withers grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her repeatedly before fleeing the flat.

Withers pleaded not guilty to murder but a jury found him guilty on Monday (July 25). He will be sentenced on Tuesday (July 26).

Detective Superintendent Mike Ashcroft, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “This is a tragic and harrowing case and my thoughts and condolences go to Lauren’s family and friends.

“She was a young mum with her whole life ahead of her. Although the guilty verdict and undoubtedly a long prison sentence won’t alter the events of that day and bring Lauren back, it is some justice for her and her family.”

Lauren’s family said: “Lauren was a loving and devoted mother to her two boys. She was a bright, happy, caring and friendly young woman, loved by her mother, her sister, grandparents and friends.

“Today’s verdict shows what an evil, violent, jealous and controlling person Paul Withers is. He took Lauren’s life in the most dreadful way and it is right that he spends his life in prison away from us.

“He has shown himself to be a contemptuous individual who has not once shown the slightest remorse for murdering Lauren. She did not deserve to suffer and die like she did.

“Paul Withers should have walked away when she asked him to. What happened to Lauren on August 28, 2015 was utterly horrific and has left all who knew her completely heartbroken.

“Today we feel that justice has been served. In time we hope that the pain of her passing will lessen and that we can move forward. We will never forget Lauren. She will be in our hearts and our thoughts every single day and she will be missed dearly by all who loved her.”

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