A breast cancer sufferer was strangled to death by her partner just hours after she had undergone surgery to treat her condition, a court heard today.
The lifeless body of solicitor Sian Rees, 50, was discovered between the front seats when John Doyle, 54, crashed his white Ford Fiesta van the day after she had had the treatment under general anaesthetic in hospital.
The jury in Doyle's murder trial at Exeter Crown Court heard that he had turned up late to collect her from the operation on June 30 last year and was so drunk after a day in pubs in the city - during which he made leering comments to other women - that she had been forced to go against medical advice and drive them both home.
The court heard the pair's relationship had been rocky for months, and on the way home she booked herself a room in a hotel, before continuing home with Doyle to collect some belongings. She never returned to the hotel.
Doyle, who denies murder, was arrested after crashing into a hedge on a rural road near the couple's home near Hatherleigh in Devon on July 1. He had originally crashed into a traffic island and punctured a tyre but drove on for more than two miles on the flat and then the bare wheel rim before crashing again.
Tests on the body of Ms Rees, originally from Aberdare in South Wales, showed she had been strangled and had been dead for around 12 hours before the crash at 9.50am.
Paul Dunkels QC told the jury of four men and eight women that Doyle, who had been with Ms Rees since 1996 and living with her at Merton Mill, Merton, for 12 years, was on his way to dispose of the body after fatally attacking her in the kitchen of their home.
"It would have been a frightening and painful ordeal for her," he said.
"There is no doubt she would have struggled to save herself, a struggle which we suggest is likely to have been painful for her after the operation she had undergone that day."