Case: Killed by her estranged husband: Sophie Cavanagh
Sophie Cavanagh
Martin Cavanagh
Status: Solved
Categories: Domestic
Case synopsis:

Sophie Cavanagh, 31, was found strangled in Bromley on 20 May 2018.

Police and paramedics were called to her estranged husband's home in Chatterton Road at around 6.13pm.

Ms Cavanagh, a mother-of-two who also lived in Bromley, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A postmortem found the cause of death was compression of the neck.

Detectives launched a public appeal to trace her estranged husband Martin Cavanagh, 35 (09.04.83) of Chatterton Road, Bromley, and he was arrested on 24 May after handing himself in to police. He was charged with murder on 28 May.

Cavanagh went on trial at the Old Bailey on 19 November 2018. He was convicted of murder on 7 December and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 16 years before parole on 10 December.

The court heard Cavanagh had been married for six years and had two children, a six year-old boy and a four year-old girl, but were living apart in the two years before the murder.

Cavanagh moved out of the family home in Albatross Gardens and started living in Chatterton Road in early 2018.

He continued to harass Sophie, who worked as a cleaner and an online make-up sales assistant, and make unsubstantiated claims she was talking to other men.

In the days before the murder Cavanagh pressured Sophie to sleep with him for money but she refused and was petitioning him for divorce.

On 19 May 2018 they visited the Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent with their children before returning to Cavanagh's home at around 8pm.

The next morning at 8am Cavanagh too the children to his mothers home and asked her to look after them because he was going to the police station.

Police were called later that day after two friends went round to the flat and saw Sophie's body on the bed in Cavanagh's bedroom.

Officers found a children's whiteboard in the corner of the room displaying a written message: "U no who u r, so 2 u I say Fnk u + I realy do love u. She deserved it. And now me my angel and my princess. Can be 2 geva 4eva and we will Have love and happyness like we deserve."

Cavanagh returned to his mother's home while she was at the scene of the murder and told his sister his life was over and that he had an argument with Sophie but did not know what had happened.

Cavanagh was arrested after attending Bromley police station. He refused to answer questions in interview.

During the trial he claimed he grabbed Sophie by the neck spontaneously and in self-defence after she started throwing things at him during a row.

Judge Michael Grieve QC described Cavanagh as possessive and controlling and said he murdered his wife because of "pent up frustration and the realisation that if you couldn't have her then no one else was going to."

The judge told Cavanagh: "You have inflicted a lifetime of suffering on your two children.

"'You caused a wholly unnecessary and tragic death of 31-year-old Sophie, much loved by her family and friends, who had most of her life before her.

"I realise that no sentence I can impose may seem adequate."

In a statement, Sophie's family said: "This has been a horrific time for our family. That nasty, controlling, abusive man deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life for taking our beautiful Sophie's life away from her and her babies and family, in such a despicable way, just because she no longer wanted to be with him. This is a nightmare no family should have to go through."

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Vandenbergh, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "This has been a tragic case to investigate. Sophie was a young woman who lost her life in her prime to a man who was controlling and abusive, and whom she had been petitioning for a divorce.

"Cavanagh will now have a significant amount of time to reflect upon the irreparable damage his wicked actions have caused to her family, and especially his own two young children; they have been robbed of a loving mother by their own father.

"A custodial sentence will, I'm sure, serve of little comfort to Sophie's family, but I hope they will appreciate that justice has been done."

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