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'Monster' who murdered 'bubbly' ex-girlfriend and dumped her near M1 motorway jailed for minimum of 17 years
19 December 2023, 15:57 | Updated: 19 December 2023, 16:06
A "monster" who killed his "bubbly and lovely" ex-girlfriend in an argument and dumped her body has been sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in jail.
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Darran Hall, 36, was jailed for killing Sarah Henshaw, 31 and driving her corpse for 20 miles before dumping it in a woodland near the lay-by on the westbound A617 near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
The carpet fitter had attacked Ms Henshaw at her home in Norman Street, Ilkeston, on June 20 - her body was found six days later.
He was found guilty of murder on Friday 15 December after a two-week trial at Derby Crown Court - Hall was sentenced today, via video link, where he appeared to be "trembling".
The court heard how Ms Henshaw’s neck had bruising "about the width of a dressing gown cord".
Jury deliberation took three hours before they came to the guilty verdict.
They heard that Hall and Ms Henshaw met in 2011 but had a "volatile" relationship and had split up by the time of death, according to the judge.
Prosecutor Michelle Heeley KC said that Hall kept a key to the house in Norman Street and let himself in on the afternoon of June 20 while Ms Henshaw was out.
Ms Henshaw had previously asked her ex-boyfriend to surrender his key.
When she returned, she asked Hall to leave but he stayed.
The Crown said it did not know exactly how Ms Henshaw died but said that her body was "callously" dumped near the lay-by in June.
Phone data shows that Hall stopped for nine minutes.
He used Ms Henshaw’s phone to send her friends texts, suggesting she was alive, before throwing the device away.
The days after the murder, Hall threw away Ms Henshaw's belongings, including her dressing gown and slippers, at a recycling centre - he then pretended she had gone missing.
He told that story to police before he was arrested on June 23.
On Tuesday, Ms Heely said Hall told a "series of lies" against a "background of domestic abuse."
Defence KC Andrew Vout said that Hall "deeply regretted and was very sorry for" dumping Ms Henshaw's body, describing the defendant's actions as "plainly very wrong".
However, Mr Justice Goss was not convinced and added that Hall had "maintained the fiction" that he had not hurt Ms Henshaw.
He said: "Having heard all the evidence, I am satisfied that there were earlier occasions in your relationship where you were violent to Sarah Henshaw and bruised her"
He added that Hall "hastily" tried to cover up that he strangled his ex-girlfriend.
"I can't accept that you have genuine remorse for killing her, as you still protest you did nothing to hurt her.
"I accept that there was no pre-meditation and you had no intention to kill, but you clearly ignored her screams and used sufficient force to cause her death", he concluded.
Hall had said that Ms Henshaw died after falling down the stairs but he "panicked", moving her body and disposing of the corpse.
At the trial, Mr Justice Goss described the victim: "She was a loud, outgoing and fun-loving person with an infectious laugh.
"The harm you have done and the suffering you have caused can never be undone by any sentence of this court."
Ms Henshaw's relatives, who packed the public gallery throughout the trial, described her as "bubbly and mischievous".
Kelsie Henshaw, Ms Henshaw's sister, described Hall as a "cruel, selfish man" and said her sister's death meant "the biggest piece of us is missing".
She also said that her family visited a medium following her death, who said' "Sarah would not be at peace until justice was done".
She added: "Sarah was really caring and would do anything to help anyone.
"We have nightmares about Darren Hall and how he murdered our lovely sister and the evil way he just dumped her body.
"Our hearts are broken forever. We will always carry Sarah forward in our lives."
Her mother, Lorraine Henshaw, said Hall was a "monster" who disposed of Ms Henshaw's body like a "piece of rubbish".
She added: "All Sarah ever wanted was stability and to settle down with a partner who loved her.
"To me, he [Darren Hall] is a monster who committed the most evil crime a person can do."
Hall, who has no previous convictions, will serve his sentence less than 173 days he has already spent in custody.